Interviews during a rapid journalists’ survey to undercover the salient features of higher maternal mortality in Mwanza, it was confirmed that many women in the region are using traditional herbs to induce abortion, terminating unintended pregnancies, which leads to unsafe abortions.
The Sengerema Designated District Hospital last year served 850 women with post abortion care services, which is approximate to two to three patients daily or more 90 women per month who need the services.
Modesta Masala, a midwife and health counselor of the Sengerema Designated Hospital said many of the patients admitted due to miscarriage and abortion complications had induced termination of pregnancies using traditional herbs.
"In 2017 we treated more than 600 women and last year the number rose to more than 800 women, aged 20-26 needing post abortion care services," said Modesta, profiling the situation.
"After treating them, we refer them to family planning services or to the nearest health facility to where they live because ours is a religious hospital. We don't provide family planning services," she elaborated.
The hospital doctor in charge, Dr Sister Marie Jose Voesen said about 9,000 to 10,000 pregnant women admitted yearly o there because of the good services, which attract many patients from neighboring districts.
Commenting on post abortion care services, Dr Marie said they offer it for free and make sure all the package is obtained at the hospital. They just treat the women if they have pregnancy miscarriages with love.
"Our duty is to treat them without judging them that they had intended to induce termination of pregnancies. We treat them as ones who had pregnancy miscarriages and a few were found with traditional herbs in their wombs," said Sister Marie.
The doctor in charge said that last year they had 23 maternal deaths contributed by number of facts that cannot be directly counted as caused by unsafe abortion because she believe many women terminates at the early pregnancy stages using traditional herbs.
Maria Magoa, the District Health Coordinator said women in that district are using traditional herbs to terminate pregnancies which leads to unsafe abortions.
"We have 42 health facilities which provide maternity services, and beside the 23 deaths from the designated hospital, in all the other centers there were just two deaths related to maternal mortality," she said.
Sengerema District Medical Officer, Dr Petet Mao said many miscarriages treated in the designated hospital were the outcome of women using traditional herbs to induce termination of pregnancies.
"Using traditional herbs is a major challenge to women who don't want to carry on their pregnancies and give birth, and they go to traditional healers because they know it’s illegal to terminate pregnancies," said the Segerema DMO.
"There are some implications and complications In using traditional herbs to induce an abortion. They vary and include herbs, high doses of chloroquine and detergent, which is a leading cause of maternal deaths," he declared.
Pregnancy termination is restricted by law in Tanzania, widely motivating women to induce abortion which is almost always unsafe, and contributes to high maternal morbidity and mortality. Yet the majority of abortion-related deaths are preventable, as are the unintended pregnancies associated with abortion, he further observed.
The 2015-16 Tanzania Demographic and Health and Malaria Indicator Survey (TDHS-MIS) reveals that Mwanza, one of the six regions of the Lake Zone records high maternal mortality, high fertility rate, low contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR), and high HIV prevalence rate than the national average.