SOME 35 NGOs have teamed up to petition the government, urging it to allocate adequate budget for maternal and newborn health during the 2012/2013 financial year.
The activists met in Dar es Salaam over the weekend and agreed to engage policy makers especially MPs to push for increased budget allocation. "The maternal and newborn health sector has been allocated only 3 per cent of the whole Ministry of Health and Social Welfare budget in the financial year ending next month, this is too little for the sector that the government claims to having given the priority," said the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood Country Coordinator, Ms Rose Mlay.
Ms Mlay who spoke on behalf of other NGOs, noted that the budget analysis conducted by Save the Children found out that the biggest portion of the ministry's budget covered malaria, HIV/AIDs, Tuberculosis and Leprosy. She noted that the budget increase for maternal and newborn health should also go hand in hand with a meaningful budget allocation to the ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
"It was agreed in Abuja Declaration of 2001 that all African countries should at least allocate 15 per cent of their budget to health sector but until now Tanzania has managed 9.8 per cent only which is not enough at all," she said. Also in line with achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS 4 and 5 by 2015), the government promised to increase budget allocation to the health sector from 12 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent in 2015.
Reports have it that, some 24 women and 144 newborn die everyday due to pregnancy related complications in Tanzania. The NGOs also resolved to push the government to indicate the budget put aside for recruitment of nurses, midwives and doctors in line with MDGs.
A report by the Norway - Tanzania Partnership Initiative (NTPI) shows, however, that a sharp reduction in under-five mortality has taken place in Tanzania over the last decade, but there has been little progress in reducing the mortality rate of newborns. Mortality rate of newborns is said to be persistently high and accounting for 30 per cent of all under-five deaths, amounting to 51,000 newborn deaths each year whereas 454 women die in every 100,000 live births.
Reports also have it that Tanzania is one of the 10 countries contributing to 61 per cent of global maternal deaths and 66 per cent of the newborn deaths. Today only 50 per cent of all births in Tanzania occur at health facilities.