UNICEF outlines ‘tuwavushe’ neo-natal deaths reduction

23May 2019
James Kandoya
The Guardian
UNICEF outlines ‘tuwavushe’ neo-natal deaths reduction

DESPITE government efforts to reduce mother and child mortality rates, figures shows that Tanzania is among top ten countries with high neonatal deaths globally.

Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) communication specialist, Usia Ledama disclosed this yesterday during an editors’ workshop organized to publicize the ‘Jiongeze Tuwavushe Salama’ campaign.

Launched in November 3last year by Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the campaign is geared to reduce maternal and newborn mortality and scaling up awareness about the community’s responsibility to work towards alleviating dangers associated with maternal and newborn deaths. It was jointly organized by UNICEF, True Vision and the Ministry of Health.

Countries with high mortality rates are notably India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Bangladesh, implying that Tanzania was slightly above these countries in the ranking. In low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births while in Tanzania, around 312 children (under five) die everyday due to communicable diseases, including malaria and diarrhea, the UNICEF official underlined.

At the same time, around 8,200 mothers die annually when giving birth in the country, on the basis of reports from health centres.

The number of infants diagnosed with HIV/Aids has declined from 12 to 4.9 percent from 2011 to 2016, she said.

Ledama noted that the ‘Jiongeze Tuwavushe Salama’ campaign targets various groups of people in the community including women, government institutions and religious leaders.

 “UNICEF works to address maternal and mortality issues in four regions, namely Mbeya, Songwe, Iringa and Njombe,” she said.

To complement government efforts, UNICEF has trained health workers and midwives on essential newborn care.

The Acting Reproductive Child Health Coordinator at the Ministry for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly   and children, Agnes Mgaya said maternal and newborn deaths can be prevented.

She said that 27 percent of women get pregnant at early ages while the mortality rate is 25 per 1000 live births and maternal deaths are still high at 556 per 100,000 live births.

To reduce maternal risks, government institutions should ensure provision of quality services, she emphasized, elaborating that the campaign will help reduce deaths since experience shows that 80 per cent of complications related to childbirth originate from within the communities.

Birth complications could be avoided if patients attend clinics at the right time and receive the right guidance from professional medical personnel, she pointed out.

 In her presentation “The Situation of Maternal and Child in Tanzania,” Mgaya cited factors contributing to maternal and child mortality as excessive bleeding (28 percent), abortion (19 percent), obstetric delivery (11 percent) and infection (11 percent).

“Under the campaign, we aim at ensuring that 80 percent of expectant mothers get services at health facilities located in their vicinity,” she stated.

Giving an overview of the ‘Jiongeze Tuwavushe Salama’ campaign, Tahseen Alam of UNICEF Communication Department said that 80 percent of newborn deaths are caused by preventable and treatable conditions.

 Stakeholders need to come together to provide affordable and quality healthcare services to stem the tragic situation, the specialist intoned.

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