Saving the Lives of Mothers and Newborns Matters
“I secretly attempted to abort my baby at home using herbal methods, not knowing that I too could have died.”—Mariam Madoshi, Tanzania
In the United Republic of Tanzania, such acts of attempted abortion are not uncommon and are a leading contributor to the country’s high maternal mortality and morbidity rates. Better access to contraceptive choices and to comprehensive postabortion care is a critical step toward lowering the country’s maternal mortality rates.
Approximately 39,000 newborns die each year before they reach one month of age, making Tanzania the country with the 11th-highest number of newborn deaths globally (UNICEF, 2014). Over one-third of these babies die on the day they are born (Oza, Cousens, & Lawn, 2014), making the period around birth critical. Maternal and newborn deaths in Tanzania can be prevented by adequate investment in comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care (CEmONC). EngenderHealth is a leader in integrating family planning in Tanzania as an essential strategy to reducing maternal and newborn mortality and has supported increased access to emergency obstetric care services.
On March 16, 2016, EngenderHealth joined other Tanzanian partners and professional organizations in Dar es Salaam to mark the launch of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA) 2016–2020 Strategic Plan (WRATZ, 2016), under the theme Zero Tolerance to Maternal Deaths, Be Accountable, at which the Tanzania Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, was the guest of honor. In support of the campaign, Ms. Hassan pledged government support to the cause, saying “[Although] the government cannot increase the budget by 100% for maternal and children health care in the next financial year, we’ll do that in each financial year, and after five years, the situation will have improved…. I believe if all councils in the country adhere to this plan, and be accountable, maternal and child deaths would be reduced significantly.”
During the week preceding the event, some organizations and WRA Tanzania (WRATZ) provided a range of maternal and newborn health services in Dar es Salaam and reached 3,437 clients. EngenderHealth, in collaboration with the Dar es Salaam Council Health Management Team (CHMT), organized family planning outreach services at three health facilities—Mwananyamala Hospital and Sinza and Magomeni Health Centers—and served a total of 839 clients.
Participating organizations set up information/service booths at the event. The booth for EngenderHealth and the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MOHCDGEC) was managed in collaboration with service providers from the Ilala Municipal Council and received 78 visitors, transferred 13 clients to the Mnazi Mmoja Mini-Hospital for implant insertions, and distributed condoms to 11 clients.
Mothers should be encouraged and supported to deliver their children at a health center that has all of the required health services, so as to give birth safely. When mothers have access to available quality family planning services and methods, it is believed that they will be better able to build healthy families and communities, contribute to economic growth, and reduce poverty. Saving the lives of mothers and newborns matters; clearly, building demand for and improving access to family planning services is a critical means to doing so.
Oza, S., S.N. Cousens, and J.E. Lawn, Estimation of daily risk of neonatal death, including the day of birth, in 186 countries in 2013: a vital-registration and modelling-based study. The Lancet Global Health. 2(11): p. e635-e644. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(14)70309-2.
UNICEF. 2014. Committing to Child Survival: Progress Report 2014: A Promise Renewed. New York: UNICEF.
White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in Tanzania (WRATZ). WRATZ Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020. Dar es Salaam: WRATZ. http://whiteribbonalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/WRA-Tanzania-Strategic-Plan-2016-2020.pdf