Trends of maternal mortality have remained high in Tanzania. According to TDHS, the ratio was 578 per 100,000 live births in 2004-2005 which went down slightly to 454 per 100,000 live births in 2010. However, in TDHS-MIS 2015-16, the ratio had again gone up to 556 per 100,000 live births, a trend which shows that strategies for reduction of maternal mortality have not worked [TDHS 2015-16]. Although Tanzania has experienced a decline in early neonatal mortality from 40/1000 live births in 1999 to 25/1000 live births in 2015–2016, the rate remains higher than Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets. This indicates that Tanzania is still far from meeting SDG targets of reducing global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births and neonatal mortality to 12/1000 births by 2030 (SDG Targets 3.1 and 3.2, respectively).
The availability and delivery of quality maternal healthcare throughout pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period are known to improve maternal health. Maternal healthcare services (MHS), including ANC, health facility delivery, and postpartum check-ups, play an important role in safe motherhood.
In Tanzania, there has been a substantial increase in the utilization of health care during pregnancy and childbirth in the past decade. This implies a huge potential to reduce maternal and newborn deaths, however, there is a significant ‘quality gap’ in the services provided. With funding from Takeda Pharmaceuticals through the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) have committed to work with the Government of Tanzania and partners (the University of Dodoma and the State University of Zanzibar) in delivering an implementation research programme for Maternal and New born Health quality improvement through integrated HIV, TB and malaria services in antenatal (ANC) and postnatal care (PNC). The programme will work across the healthcare system from healthcare facility to national level to provide capacity building, technical assistance and generating evidence to inform decision-making and policy-making in Maternal and Newborn Health.
This collaborative project is aligned to the Mission of the UDOM which aims at providing a comprehensive gender-sensitive and quality education to a broad segment of the population through teaching, research, and public service. This was pointed out by the Principal Investigator from the University of Dodoma, Dr. Leonard Katalambula during the official launch of the project on 25/4/2022 at Rafiki Dodoma Hotel. The ceremony was presided by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Aifello Sichwale and other Ministry of Health representatives from the Regional and Local Government of Dodoma. Other key representatives were from the University of Dodoma and a representative of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
In his speech, Dr. Aifello Sichwale, the CMO emphasized the timeliness and relevance of the project in addressing the prevailing poor maternal and newborn indicators by specifically addressing gaps in quality of MNH care. The project approach to capacity building that emphasizes health care worker competencies was also seen as a hallmark for capacity building in teaching and service delivery of health care professionals, both at preservice and at in service. He added that capacity building should target the knowledge, attitude and behavior change as well as the competencies of health care workers.
Additionally, the representative from LSTM Dr. Rael Mutai, in her remarks, emphasized among others, the commitment of the LSTM to support improvements in Maternal and New born health through targeted, evidence based investments by putting funds where it matters including in Antenatal and Postnatal Care.
A representative of the UDOM Vice-Chancellor, Prof Donald Mpanduji on behalf of the University extended his appreciation to LSTM and UDOM for their effort in initiating the project as he believes the outcome will be beneficial to the community. Then later, a remarkable speech followed from the Guest of Honor Dr. Aifelo Sichalwe, the Chief Medical Officer from the Tanzania Ministry of Health, who lastly launched the project officially.
The PI of the grant Dr Charles Ameh, said that ‘the LSTM partnership with the University of Dodoma and the State University of Zanzibarincludes research capacity strengthening including 2 PhDs, we look forward to the evidence generated from this project and the impact it will have on the quality of care for women and their newborn in Tanzania.’