New York Times Series Examines Maternal Mortality In Tanzania

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The New York Times on Sunday examined maternal mortality in Tanzania ... the country has a maternal death rate of 578 per 100,000 births, though the World Health Organization puts the count at 950 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. Roughly 13,000 Tanzanian women die of pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes annually, giving it "neither the best nor the worst record in Africa," the Times reports. Tanzania is one of the world's poorest countries and faces shortages in several areas -- including health workers, drugs, equipment and infrastructure -- that contribute to maternal mortality.

The Times profiled obstetrical care at a rural hospital in Berega, Tanzania, that typifies efforts to reduce maternal mortality in Africa. Facing a shortage of doctors and nurses, the hospital has been training "assistant medical officers" to perform caesarean sections and other procedures. Meanwhile, the government also is attempting to train more assistants and midwives, build more clinics and nursing schools, offer housing to attract health workers to rural areas and provide places for pregnant women to stay closer to hospitals.

... many women who die in childbirth are young and healthy, and most maternal deaths are preventable with basic obstetrical care. The five leading causes of maternal death are bleeding, infection, high blood pressure, prolonged labor and complications resulting from abortions ... In discussing maternal mortality, experts often refer to what are known as "the three delays": a woman's delay in going to the hospital, the time spent traveling there and the hospital's delay in starting treatment upon the woman's arrival. Although only around 15% of births have dangerous complications, the problems are almost impossible to predict, and seemingly normal labors can quickly progress into serious emergencies. Worldwide, more than 536,000 women die annually from pregnancy or childbirth, according to WHO ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448