THE First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete has launched a campaign dubbed "Stand up for African mothers," that aims at raising funds to train about 4,222 midwives and create awareness on maternal deaths countrywide.
The three-year campaign is a brainchild of the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) and was launched during a ceremony at the Mnazi Mmoja Grounds in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
"Hardly 40 per cent of women in Sub-Saharan Africa get access to better health services while delivering new babies. It is thus the responsibility of everyone in the society to make a contribution towards safe delivery for women," Mama Kikwete said.
Adding; "Communities that have excelled in providing better health services for women have managed to reduce preventable deaths significantly."
Mama Kikwete, who also runs a charity organization that advocates for well-being of women, known by its Kiswahili acronym as WAMA, appealed to individuals and companies to donate funds to the cause. "If each Tanzanian makes a contribution of 1,000/- , we will be able to raise roughly 20bn/- which can train up to 5,000 midwives," she said.
Speaking during the occasion, the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hussein Mwinyi, said the government has taken various initiatives to address maternal deaths countrywide. Dr Mwinyi cited the Campaign for Acceleration of Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA), which was launched last year, as among efforts to address the problem.
"In Tanzania, statistics show that only 50 per cent of pregnant women deliver their babies at health centres. The campaign that is being launched today will enable us to increase the number of midwives countrywide," Dr Mwinyi said. The minister also said that about 1.5 million children in Africa are left motherless each year due to maternal deaths.
In a bid to address shortage of workforce in the health sector, Dr Mwinyi said employment of more workers is among focuses of the primary health development programme. A report issued last year on midwifery, showed that about 35,000 women face serious health complications while 900 women die every day when giving birth. It also showed that 200,000 women die every year due to lack of simple medical care.
The "Stand up for African mothers" aims to train about 15,000 midwives in Africa by 2015 and reduce maternal deaths by 25 per cent. The Executive Director of AMREF in Tanzania, Dr Festus Ilako, said the campaign would also support the candidacy of a Ugandan midwife, Ms Esther Madudu, for the Nobel Prize in 2015.
The Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Mr Said Mecky Sadick, said maternal deaths in the city of Dar es Salam has decreased from 127 among 92,464 women in 2009 to 103 deaths among 97,844 women in 2011.
By Alvar Mwakyusa, 16 May 2012