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Maternal and newborn health care improved in underserved rural Morogoro, Tanzania

March 3, 2022
A project, implemented at five health centres and 15 satellite dispensaries in rural Morogoro, Tanzania, has improved the quality of emergency maternal and newborn services. This recently closed project, Accessing Safe Deliveries in Tanzania (ASDIT), was part of the Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa initiative, supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Global Affairs Canada and IDRC.
A trainee learns to give spinal anaesthesia to a patient during a course at St. Francis Referral Hospital, Ifakara, Tanzania.
A trainee (associate clinician) at a short course in anaesthesia gives spinal anaesthesia under supervision at St. Francis Referral Hospital, Ifakara, Tanzania.

The project trained 42 care providers from health centres in anaesthesia and emergency maternal and newborn care. It also trained 20 managers of the health facilities and eight members of the district and regional health management teams in leadership and management. Managers created plans to improve the performance of their health facilities and learned how to evaluate their impact. 

The average number of deliveries at the health centres increased by 96%, from 183 per month before the intervention to 358 during the intervention period. During the project, 2,179 women were delivered by Caesarean section. The proportion of women referred from health centres to secondary hospitals because of maternal complications decreased by 33%, and the risk of a woman dying from complications during and after labour decreased from 1.5% to 1.1%. 

The regional and district medical officers from the supported district councils were pleased with the achievements of the ASDIT project. Dr. Ukio Kurisye, Morogoro regional medical officer, said, “The main lesson learned [from the ASDIT project] is that if care providers are well trained and adequately equipped with essential supplies, in the presence of an effective management team, maternal and newborn deaths can be reduced.” Dr. Kurisye added, “So we intend to scale up the ASDIT model in the whole region. It is not easy, but it has to be done. We’ll support the district councils to copy and paste the model for their facilities.”