Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

18 February 2013

Tanzania: High Maternal, Infant Deaths Rock Handeni

Photo: Nancy Palus
Maternal mortality on the rise in Handeni district, Tanzania (file photo).

HANDENI District still has high numbers of under-five and maternal deaths now standing at 58 out of 1000 and 264 per 100,000 live births respectively.

The District Medical Officer, Dr Somoka Mwakapalala, revealed this on Saturday during the official launch of a surgery unit worth 995m/- at St Francis Hospital, sponsored by the government of Germany under the supervision of the Christian Social Services Commission (CSSC).

Dr Mwakapalala said that the district authorities were unhappy with the deaths and had targeted to reduce underfive deaths to 50/1000 live births by December this year and reduce maternal mortality to 200 at the same period.

The Acting Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Donald Mbando, was quoted last year saying the government has made major strides in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDG 2015).

Dr Mbando noted that major achievements were on MDG 4 which focuses on reduction of infant mortality and under-five deaths. Data had it that at national level, the government achieved a significant decline in child mortality rate, specifically infant and under-five deaths which stood at 26 newborn out of 1,000 live births.

However, to achieve MDG 4 more efforts are needed so that by 2015 infant mortality should be less than 15 babies out of 1,000. The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Seif Rashid, who officiated at the incident, commended the CSSC and the government of Germany through KFW Bank saying that the move complements government efforts.

"Lack of enough funds and poor supervision has always been a major setback in implementing government projects. This building will go a long way in helping us to achieve the MDGs 2,3,4,5 and 6," he said.

He added that government's partnership with faith based organizations in delivering social services has been vital as various such hospitals were recently promoted to designated hospitals. "About 800,000 to 1,000,000 new born are registered in Tanzania every year; this rapid increase in population calls for rapid increase in health service facilities and the government alone cannot answer that call," he added.

He said following expansion of the hospital which started way back in 1919 as a mission hospital, the government will consider upgrading it to Council Designated Hospital upon fulfilment of the requirements.

The Hospital's Doctor-in- Charge, Dr Philip Badi, said the hospital has been giving outpatient services, minor and major surgeries, maternal and infant as well has HIV/Aids testing and counselling services. He said the hospital management has happily received the new building and was looking forward to repair and expand wards as preparations for 100 years anniversary in 2017.

The KFW Representative, Mr Pascal Kanyinyi, said the government of Germany was committed in supporting many other such projects but emphasized on the importance of maintaining the building. "We have supported over 100 other projects through CSSC and we are determined to do more but we call on the authorities to ensure such projects are properly maintained to last long," he said.

The CSSC Director of Finance, Mr Milton Lupa, noted that the project was implemented under the Joint Church and Government Programme for Sustainable Development in Social Services which started in 1999. He added that since then various projects have been implemented in three phases and that the major focus was on education and health sectors.

He said that the project at St Francis Hospital included construction of a fence, incinerator and a clothes drying area. The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, Dr Valentino Mokiwa, noted that infant and maternal mortality was intolerable in this era of science and technology.

"Witnessing a woman dying while giving birth after 50 years of independence is a sin, we need to make health services accessible to all to avoid unnecessary deaths," he said.

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InFocus

Mother/Child Deaths Rise in Handeni, Tanzania

Maternal mortality on the rise in Handeni district, Tanzania (file photo).

A medical officer has revealed that the Handeni district still records high levels of child and maternal deaths. Read more »