6 Improve maternal health

Where we are?

Statistically, maternal mortality contributes to only 2.3 per cent of the total mortality. Still births make up 6.7 per cent of total mortality. There are also causes of mortality that are related to poor health including malnutrition. Over half of expectant women deliver at home and not at health facilities and as such may not be attended by skilled personnel or have access to Emergency Obstetrics Care (EmOC).  Most recent DHS (DHS 2010) data show that maternal mortality situation has improved somewhat from a deteriorating trend observed in the mid 2000s in Tanzania.

The estimated maternal mortality rate in 2010 at 454 is an improvement from 578 in 2005 and 529 in 1999. Even with this turnaround the challenges of reducing maternal mortality to the targeted levels under MDGs are enormous. Improvements have also been made in the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel (41 per cent in 1999, 46 per cent in 2004 and 51 per cent in 2010), and births taking place in health facilities (44 per cent in 1999, 47 per cent in 2004 and 50 per cent in 2010). The slow progress in reducing maternal mortality on Mainland is compounded by the impact of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Most of the maternal deaths are preventable, hence the need to ensure continuum of care from the community level such as through instituting Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC).

Targets for MDG 5
  1. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
    • Most maternal deaths could be avoided
    • Giving birth is especially risky in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where most women deliver without skilled care
    • The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed
  2. Achieve universal access to reproductive health & inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health
    • More women are receiving antenatal care
    • Inequalities in care during pregnancy are striking
    • Only one in three rural women in developing regions receive the recommended care during pregnancy
    • Progress has stalled in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies, putting more young mothers at risk
    • Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates
    • Progress in expanding the use of contraceptives by women has slowed & use of contraception is lowest among the poorest women and those with no education