17 May 2019

Tanzania: Ignorance Blamed for Surging Maternal, Infant Mortality Rates in Mwanza

Mwanza — Public health officials have blamed ignorance of expectant mothers on the importance of going for early checkups and diagnosis to increased rate of child and pregnancy-related deaths in Mwanza Region.

"Pregnant women who attend clinics from the first week undergo all the necessary tests and receive supplements that protects the child against infections including hydrocephalous and Spina bifida," said Ms Mwasham Mrisho, a nurse working with Impact project.

Hydrocephalous is a condition caused by accumulation of fluid in child skull while Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly.

Health care providers from 27 health facilities in the region met this week during a five-day seminar organized by Impact Project which is funded by Aga Khan Foundation and the government of Canada.

Ms Mwasham Mrisho said many pregnant women are ignorant of the need to attend health care services immediately after conceiving, urging them to avoid embracing traditional beliefs.

"Children mostly die of anemia or eclampsia associated diseases which are partly caused by ignorance and mythical inclinations that embrace primitive ways of life especially in some communities, "she said.

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She said the proper use of folic acid drugs prevent babies against diseases and increase their blood levels.

She said the project aims at c utting deaths and improving 80 health facilities involved in the project through provision of modern equipment that will improve safety of mothers and the children during delivery.

Mwanza Regional medical officer, Mr Thomas Ruttachinzibwa said the project has reduced maternal mortality from 195 cases recorded in 2017 to 151 incidents registered last year.

Statistics from the Tanzania Demographic Health Survey (TDHS) show there were 578 maternal deaths out 100,000 recorded in 2004, the number decreased to 434 deaths in 2010 before reversing to 556 deaths in 2015/16.

Salome Sallu from Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Dar es Salaam said the training has helped improve skills of healthcare givers in handling pregnant mothers.

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