There’s good news coming out of Tanzania. Maternal deaths have decreased in Kagera and Tanga, two regions of the country. In Kagera, maternal deaths dropped from 194 per 100,000 live births (no date is specified) to 88 per 100,000 live births in 2010. That is a 55 percent decrease. And in Tanga, the number of maternal deaths decreased from 280 per 100,000 expectant mothers in 2005 to 182 per 100,000 expectant mothers in 2012. That is a 35 percent decrease.
In both cases, the reduction in maternal mortality is due to the construction of more health centers and health dispensaries, as well as the rehabilitation of older facilities. Reproductive health education was also key. Commitment and planning on the part of the regional governments were instrumental in tackling the problem of maternal deaths.
Unfortunately, these numbers are still relatively high despite the clear improvements that have been made. In addition to adequately equipped health centers and the provision of education, the governments must focus on promoting and guaranteeing access to prenatal care as well as to skilled birth attendants. Tanzania as a whole is in need of drastic improvements, as the maternal mortality ratio for the entire country in 2010 was 460 deaths per 100,000 live births, one of the worst in the world.
For more information on the key interventions to reduce maternal mortality, check out the World Youth Alliance’s white paper on maternal health.
Meghan Grizzle is Research and Policy Specialist for the World Youth Alliance.