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    WHO helps to save lives of mothers and children in Kigoma

    Kigoma – Maternal death is a significant problem in Tanzania. According to the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2016, by average 556 women die from childbirth, a slight decrease over ten years from 578 in 2005. With the current annual rate of reduction, Tanzania may not meet the global goal of reducing maternal deaths to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.

    With high teenage pregnancy (32%), high birth rate (6.7), unmet need for family planning (28%) and lower than national average antenatal clinic attendance 16% below 40% national average, Kigoma is one of the regions in Tanzania with highest maternal deaths. In 2019, Kigoma reported 100 maternal deaths,119 in 2020, and 75 deaths reported in 2021.

    A recent assessment conducted by the regional health management team also found high rates of maternal death. According to the report, the major causes of high maternal death included: obstetric hemorrhage which accounts for 56% of all maternal deaths in the Kigoma region, whereas hypertensive disorders contribute (9%), sepsis (8%), anemia in pregnancy (6%) obstructed labor (4%). Other causes claimed 17% of maternal deaths in 2021.

    In rural areas of the Kigoma region, access of pregnant women to quality health services is constrained by inadequate skills among healthcare providers, distance to health facilities, cost, inadequate obstetric diagnostic capacities and inadequate and unreliable referral.

    Other reasons including quality of services contribute to high maternal and perinatal death in the Kigoma region. To solve the problem, the regional health management is working with WHO and other partners to improve access to equitable and affordable quality Emergency Obstetric and Essential Newborn Care services in the region.

    “We developed a three years 2020-2023 contingency plan to avert the high number of maternal and perinatal deaths because our region has the highest number of maternal deaths nationally,” said Dr. Benadeta Peter, Kigoma Regional Reproductive Child Health Officer. The plan addresses the identified critical issues related to the quality of health care, the competence of health care providers, and access to health services.

    The plan seeks to address a weak referral system, especially in villages along Lake Tanganyika, inadequate skills and competencies of providers in obstetric emergencies, and limited equipment to screen danger signs leading to delays in making the right decisions.  Other partners supporting Kigoma region’s effort to reduce maternal and perinatal deaths are United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA), UNICEF, World Vision, UMATI, Marie Stoppes, Women Promotion and Tanzania Red Cross Society.

    With generous support from the Norwegian Embassy, WHO is supporting the Kigoma region to build technical capacities in managing obstetric and newborn complications. “These efforts coupled with other partners’ contributions, will subsequently avert the trend of maternal and newborn deaths,” said Dr. Jairos Hiliza, WHO Field Officer in Kigoma.

    To begin with, WHO supported the training of 88 healthcare providers on Obstetric Emergencies and Essential Newborn care, whose 87% were newly employed healthcare providers who had limited practical skills to manage obstetric and newborn emergencies.

    Additionally, WHO supported the training of 55 trainers of trainees who will be readily available to continue with onsite mentorship, coaching, and supportive supervision during the routine health services provision.

    With participants from all eight (8) districts and refugee camps, the training has equipped 37 health facilities that provide Emergency Obstetric and Essential Newborn Care services with skilled health care providers to help save the lives of mothers and children in Kigoma Region.

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