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25bn/- project eyes improved maternal health

THE government, in collaboration with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and Canada, has launched a project worth 25.3bn/-aimed at reducing maternal and newborn diseases and deaths in Mwanza Region.

It will work towards improving reproductive, maternal and newborn health through a comprehensive approach to strengthen health systems including addressing the drivers of poor maternal and newborn health such as inequalities among others.

Speaking here yesterday as she launched the project dubbed ‘Improving Access to Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health in Mwanza Tanzania (IMPACT),’ the Minister for Health,Community Development, Gender Children and Elderly Ms Ummy Mwalimu (pictured) said the boost has been timely, complementing government initiatives in improving the sector.

“The government has already established measures to implement a public-private partnership policy which provides a functional structure for dialogue between the sectors and ensures an enabling environment for effective partnership in the sector,” she said.

According to her, IMPACT comes to Mwanza while the region has slightly recorded improvement in other areas like malaria fight and family planning, but still struggling to tame mortality rate and newborn deaths currently recorded at 195 per 100,000 newborns up from 150 per 100,000 as in 2016.

The Minister outlined the government’s commitment in reducing health burdens in Mwanza region and the country at large which will see all health centres countrywide being able to attend emergency cases by 58 per cent by December, this year.

She thanked the Canada and AKDN for the donations and realisation of IMPACT whose four-year implementation (2017-2021) will witness massive improvement in eight districts of the Lake side region.

IMPACT Regional Coordinator, Ms Edina Selestine said upon completion of the project over 650,000 adolescent girls and women of reproductive age will be reached, as well as 80,000 infants under the age of one, while over 300,000 men will be served with various health information, skills and services.

She said that at least 2.5bn/- will be invested in improving 80 health facilities, supporting 500 staff while other 1.9bn/- will be spent for improvement of other health infrastructures.

“The targeted districts still face different challenges of qualified personnel among others. The project will then allocate resources in working on those areas and reduce the current burden they are facing,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of her government, the Head of Cooperation from the Canadian Embassy, Ms Susan Stefan said IMPACT was one of the projects her country has supported through the joint Health Basket Fund.

She said the idea to introduce the project originated from the Tanzania and Canada discussion on how best the funding could be made to reduce maternal, newborn mortality in the country particularly in Mwanza Region.

According to her, since independence to date Canada had injected over 4.8trl/- in development assistance, while between 2015 and 2021 it will be donating over 351.5bn/- in Tanzania to boost quality services in the health sector.

“IMPACT therefore, is one of the five such projects worth over 100bn/- Canada is supporting in five regions of Kigoma, Rukwa, Simiyu, Tabora and now Mwanza and we are proud of remaining true partners in making sure the health sector improves in Tanzania,” she said.

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Author: PIUS RUGONZIBWA in Mwanza

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