Research sets out key obstacles to maternal health in rural Tanzania

In Tanzania’s rural Rorya region, approximately 40% of women aren’t in the care of medical staff at hospitals or clinics when they deliver their babies. Instead they give birth at home, sometimes with a traditional birth attendant.

The region has the one of the lowest facility birth rates in the country. As a result, women die unnecessarily every year from treatable complications such as bleeding after delivery.

Tanzania’s government would like more than 80% of births to be overseen by skilled health care providers. Evidence shows that delivering in a health facility with a skilled birth attendant with access to medications, supplies and surgery as needed reduces deaths of both mothers and their infants.

Tanzania has limited resources for rural districts. It has very few skilled birth attendants and a shortage of medical supplies.

We did a study to understand what was preventing women from getting health care during pregnancy and childbirth. Our research was conducted in a way that allowed participants to discuss both the problem and solutions that are most meaningful to them.

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Barriers to maternal health: A South Sudanese woman’s journey

A nutritionist screening the nutrition status of babies under five years at the Nyong Health Facility in Torit, Imotong State in South Sudan.


By Lynette Kamau, Policy and Communications Officer, APHRC

At about 8.30 am on December 5, 2017, we arrived in Torit town, Imotong State in South Sudan. It was my maiden trip to South Sudan.

We made our way to Nyong health facility which was recently renovated so as to provide antenatal, delivery and nutrition services to the women and children in the area.

As we drove to the health facility, the radio presenter blurted out to everyone’s amusement: “It is air-conditioned weather today in Torit.” I imagine we were all silently hoping for cool temperatures. This was the confirmation we needed. The temperatures in South Sudan can rise to 40 degrees Celsius.

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