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President Kikwete to health workers: You can stop maternal and child deaths

IPP Media

May 19, 2014
by Lucas Lukumbo

President Jakaya Kikwete has appealed to health workers in the country to ensure that lives of women and children are not at risk during delivery.

Calling it a major national silent emergency, President Kikwete said it is a unacceptable that as many as 455 women out of every 100,000 live births die during delivery in a country boasting a comprehensive health system.

The president was giving his remarks during the launch of the ‘Tanzania countdown and a promise renewed on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child deaths’ in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

President Kikwete said while a lot has been achieved during the implementation of the Millenium Development Goals (MGDS) there were still sad stories of women and children who die for reasons which could be avoided.

He said the medical personnel and stakeholders must fight for increased utilisation of family planning services while also increasing the percentage of skilled health providers in the health sector.

He stated that many of the births were being conducted by traditional birth attendants who cannot handle delivery complications.

“We do not underrate the work done by these traditional birth attendants but measures must be taken to upgrade the qualifications of those dealing with helping pregnant mothers to deliver,” he said.

He asked the health ministry to make sure that men ware also included in programmes aiming to reduce maternal deaths in the country.

The president asked the health ministry to introduce Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) scorecards in all regions in the country which will show the regional performance in dealing with maternal and child health care problems.

He said the scorecards would allow effective supervision of the activities on reproductive health activities in respective regions by health officials. The president said he himself will want to get the regional reports every four months “and not in six months as some officials suggested.”

“Matters concerning maternal and child health are very close to my heart. I will therefore want to have these scorecards every four month to know those regions which perform well and those which underperform.

He commended Singida Region for making sure that life saving items for women and children were readily available in the region.

Tanzania is one of the ten countries contributing to 61 percent and 66 percent of the global total of maternal and newborn deaths, respectively. According to sources maternal mortality ratios are lowest in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions.

Mtwara, Tabora, Tanga, Lindi and Pwani have institutional maternal mortality ratios exceeding 200 per 100,000 live births.

Meanwhile President Kikwete has observed that some of the non-governmental organisations were diverting funds meant for maternal and child health affairs. “We have organisations, although not many, who use funds meant to help maternal and child health activities for their own benefit,” he said.

“Instead of healing many mothers and children they help their own children,” he noted.

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