Tanzania: Govt acquires maternal health program after 13 years

Director of Preventive Services-Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Leonard Subi

Dar es Salaam. The government has officially taken over a maternal and reproductive health program after nearly 13 years of being an international partnership.

Since 2016, the project—implemented in Kigoma, Morogoro and Pwani Regions has been working through a coalition, including Engender Health and Thamini Uhai.

Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Foundation H&B Agerup, the project was implementing the government’s national priorities on maternal and reproductive health.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam on Saturday June 22 during on an event that marked the official takeover of the project by the government, the Director of Preventive Services-Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Leonard Subi said Kigoma Region has seen a signifant decline in maternal deaths through the project’s interventions.

“Today’s event doesn’t mean the services have come to an end. The government is dedicated to continue making it a success,’’ he said.

Data released by the organizations which have running the project, show that health care interventions in Kigoma Region alone saved the lives of nearly 2,200 mothers through improved, timely obstetric care and family planning services.

According to the data, over 210,000 babies were delivered in Kigoma in the project-supported health facilities and in the hands of a trained healthcare provider.

Implementing partners and the Kigoma Regional Administrative Secretary office signed a transition document to ensure the continuation of vital maternal and reproductive health services to mothers and newborns.

The Director of the Maternal and Reproductive Health Program at Bloomberg Philanthropies Dr Neena Prasad said, “No one should accept that it’s impossible to provide high-quality maternal and reproductive healthcare to women who live in rural communities in developing countries.”

“In the thirteen years that we have supported this program in Kigoma, the region has gone from having among the worst maternal health indicators in Tanzania to among the best,’’ she said.

She explained that implementing partners have worked hand-in-glove with the government and communities to build a model for delivering maternal healthcare that can inform similar efforts around the world.

“We feel proud that the project’s goals of increasing utilization of obstetric and family planning care services have been accomplished, and have the fullest confidence that the government is committed to sustain it,’’ she added.

Kigoma, like other remote regions in Tanzania and elsewhere, faces a human resource shortage, with only one obstetrician and very few medical doctors.

The Executive Director of Thamini Uhai, Dr Nguke Mwakatundu, said “The project’s success proved that with well-coordinated and well implemented interventions to improve the quality of care, experience of care in the health facilities and mobilizing the communities to use the facilities, it is possible to significantly improve the maternal and reproductive health situation in rural areas in Tanzania.”

Country Representative for Engender Health Tanzania, Prudence Masako, said, “This success was only possible because all parties played their roles as required, from the national level to the community level players, the coordination functioned like a machine, where each party played its role.”