Tanzania ranks high in maternal deaths

12Nov 2016
Aisia Rweyemamu
The Guardian
Tanzania ranks high in maternal deaths

TANZANIA ranks the world’s sixth and Africa’s fourth in maternal mortality rate after Nigeria, Ethiopia and Congo as her 338 women out of 100,000 die from labour complications every year.

Dr Nguke Mwakatundu

This was revealed in Dar es Salaam yesterday during an official launch of Thamini Uhai, an organization supporting the Tanzania’s efforts to reduce maternal and neonatal death in rural areas, formally known as World Lung Foundation.

Speaking during the event the Executive Director of Thamini Uhai, Dr Nguke Mwakatundu expressed concern over the problem, saying it needed collective efforts from various stakeholders to overcome the tragedies that could be otherwise prevented.

Hemorrhages, infections, unsafe abortions, hypertensive disorders and obstructed labours have been described as major motives behind maternal deaths.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) report released last year, about 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth and that 99 per cent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

The report says maternal mortality ratio in developing countries last year was at a rate of 239 per 100,000 healthy births with higher rate in women living in rural areas and among poor communities, as opposed to only 12 deaths in every 100,000 deliveries in developed countries.

But Dr Mwakatundu said they have established a comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care (CEmONC) in 15 health centres and five hospitals in Kigoma, Morogoro and Coast regions to reduce the number of maternal mortality cases.

He said by working closely with the government, the organization has also established a model for serving the lives of mothers and newborn by expanding access to CEmONC.

“Our goal is to ensure that sustainable maternal and neonatal care is available in all vulnerable communities in the country, thereby eliminating maternal and neonatal mortality,” he said, adding that his organisation trained non physician clinicians so that health centres could drive CEmONC closer to communities.

He said increasing the availability and quality of caesarean deliveries using associate clinicians was a feasible, acceptable and required intervention in most resource limited settings.

“But initiatives aiming at scaling up such services in underserved rural areas should be accompanied with strategic effort s geared at improving the quality of caesarean procedures,” he said.

Since 2008, World Lung Foundation has been highly successful in improving maternal health in targeted districts of Tanzania.

The team has provided training and mentoring to increase efficiency among health care workers, improved health care facilities, and run compelling communication campaigns to educate and encourage women and communities to plan for facility delivery.

Up to this year the organization has been building capacity to increase availability and access to CEmONC in 19 rural health centres.

Thamini Uhai which was officially launched yesterday is a Tanzanian organization working together with the government in preserving, saving and improving lives of women and newborns in Kigoma, Morogoro and Coast regions.

Speaking during the event the Acting Director for Mother and Child Health Prevention at the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Koheleph Winan said while the government has designed good strategies for reducing mortality rate, the community has a big role to play in addressing the problem.

He said for the country to remedy the situation, the community ought to make sure a pregnant woman attended clinic, get all services in time and give birth at the designated health centres.

Echoing the bureaucrat, Prof. Andrea Pembe said indeed education to the community and joint efforts were vital in addressing the problem of maternal deaths in Tanzania.

But other participants in the event attributed the alarming mortal rate to reluctance by the local medics to work in rural areas.

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