Last Friday, April 5, marked the beginning of the 1,000-day countdown until the target date for achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals. We know it is going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the expectations in Tanzania set by MDG #5: to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters and to achieve universal access to reproductive health. However, over the last several years, as Kupona/CCBRT's work in women's health has grown to include a partnership not only with the Government of Tanzania but also with a variety of stakeholders in the Tanzanian health infrastructure, we have been encouraged and motivated by the progress being made.
Our program to address Dar es Salaam's key problems in maternal health began in 2010 with a comprehensive program including training, investments in infrastructure and equipment, continuous follow-up, mentoring and coaching in 16 public facilities, and at the same time improving the engagement of the community in maternal health care.
This has resulted in:
- Increased availability of comprehensive emergency obstetric care (CEmOC)
- Increased number of live saving caesarean sections
- Designated operating theaters for maternal health increased from 4 to 7.
- Decongestion of the three overcrowded district hospitals by increasing the number of deliveries performed in lower level facilities from 7.8% (2008) to 27.2%(2012)
- Training a total of 1,899 facility staff trained in various areas; including a critical minimum number of staff per facility trained in basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care and in the top 5 causes of maternal deaths
- Quality assessment scores (SBMR) have increased from 9 to 55%. Buguruni Health Centre achieved a score of 81 per cent, becoming the first nationally recognised site for excellence in safe delivery.
- Increased community awareness on safe motherhood and disability prevention; 991 community health care workers, community leaders and health facility governing board members trained.
The progress is tremendous, and we have every reason to believe that 2013 will see similar accomplishments. Still, we heed the call from the UNFPA and others to step up our efforts to improve maternal health. Not only will our capacity building program implement more trainings, infrastructural improvements, and awareness raising activities, but our new maternity and newborn hospital will take firmer shape, with construction (begun in December 2011) continuing impressively, and recruitment of key personnel to lead the hospital beginning over the next several months.
We cannot stress enough how critical your support has been to improving the situation facing mothers in Tanzania. We look forward to your continued support and look forward to sharing the additional achievements it makes possible.
Construction on our maternity hospital continues