Tanzania Appeals for More Help to Combat Maternal Deaths

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said his government needs more help to combat one of the world’s highest rates of maternal deaths and meet a goal set by the United Nations.

“For sure, we need more money,” Kikwete told reporters yesterday in New York at a joint news conference with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “It is not fair for a woman to die because of giving birth or giving life to another human being. It’s not acceptable.”

To deal with the issue, a maternal-health program in Tanzania seeks to reach at least 50,000 mothers and children by 2016, according to a statement yesterday by Bloomberg Philanthropies, which announced new funding for the program.

Tanzania suffers from a shortage of doctors, nurses, drugs, equipment, roads and transportation. Many deaths, provoked mostly by bleeding and infection, are preventable by having better facilities in remote areas and training non-physicians to carry out life-saving procedures such as a cesarean section.

Twenty-three women die every day in Tanzania because of birth-related complications, Kikwete said. The World Bank says 47.8 infants die for every 1,000 live births.

One of the pillars of the UN poverty and hunger reduction aims, known as the Millennium Development Goals, is to reduce the number of women who die during pregnancy or while giving birth by 75 percent by 2015.

Additional Aid

Bloomberg Philanthropies, the mayor’s charitable foundation, joined with the Geneva-based H&B Agerup Foundation and announced an additional joint investment of $8 million for a maternal-health program in Tanzania. The $15.5 million now committed since 2006 aims to bring basic obstetrical care to isolated rural communities and train more clinicians.

Previous spending has been used to upgrade remote health centers, to train more than 100 non-physician clinicians in emergency obstetric care or anesthesia and other purposes, according to the statement.

Mayor Bloomberg is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP. In 2011, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $330 million worldwide, according to its website.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.