Members of the Association of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of Tanzania (Agota) have been urged to promote the "highest possible standards of physical, mental, reproductive, sexual health of the people."
The appeal was made by retired President Ali Hassan Mwinyi during Agota's meeting attended by other stakeholders from within and outside the country.
He hailed the association saying: "It is appreciated that for the past 37 years of existence Agota has organised, conducted and supported a number of activities dedicated to achieving its vision.”
He touted some of Agota activities as including "... the organisation and administration of safe motherhood initiative activities in the regions, training of lower cadre stakeholders, research, service provision and consultancy all of which were designed to promote reproductive health and reduce maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality."
He said that Agota and its local and international collaborators have made significant efforts in its drive to improve women’s health thereby also registering improvement of men's and children's.
Mwinyi specified further: "Maternal deaths are estimated at 454 per 100,000 live births," noting the slight decrease in maternal deaths from 578 per 100,000 live births in the past five years, and calling for extra efforts if Tanzania was to attain the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing maternal 193 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.
He said still more efforts were needed to reduce childhood death in the country explaining: "The probability of neonates dying within a month of birth has remained as high as 26 per 1,000 live births."
He raised the alarm that still more efforts were needed, adding: "It is my sincere hope that this conference will deliver updated and evidence based knowledge in reproductive maternal and neonatal health."
Mwinyi urged the participants to utilise available evidence of effective interventions to reduce maternal and neonatal deaths through seven ways namely, skilled attendance during pregnancy and childbirth, fully functioning health services 24 hours, 7 days a week, availability and use of emergency obstetric care, increased utilisation of family planning', essential newborn care, effective referral system and availability of equipment and supplies.
He said already the country faced the challenge of human resources. "In Tanzania, human resource shortages constitute a major challenge in improving health outcomes," he said, adding that the shortages were particularly acute, with some facilities
operating at about 30 percent of the required skilled staff levels.
"The situation is worse at lower level health facilities, where dispensaries and health centres (which form 80 per cent of health services in Tanzania), face shortages of up to 65.6 per cent of human resources respectively."
In his vote of thanks to the retired president the immediate past Agota president Prof Richard Lema commended the retired president saying even though "Tanzania cannot achieve the MDGs 4 and 5 but at least we can do something to reduce this burden."