This means that Tanzania has attained Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Number Five well ahead of its deadline; hats off to all players on this medical undertaking.
President Jakaya Kikwete told the International Summit on Maternal and Child Health in Toronto, Canada, at the weekend that even fewer deaths were likely to be recorded next calendar year because elaborate arrangements to improve maternal health are in place.
Indeed, the nation cannot afford to lose some of its expectant mothers and children due to health complications that can be tackled with clinical precision.
In fact, the upshot is to register zero maternal and child deaths in the near future. President Kikwete is, however, resentful that the nation is still short of skilled professional medical workers such as gynaecologists and midwives who, invariably, help pregnant women to deliver.
In Tanzania’s 12,000 rural villages, pregnant women often deliver in lowly homes with help from untrained traditional birth attendants most of who use crude tools or nothing at the risk of both the mother and her infant.
The government envisages building medical operation theatres and maternity waiting rooms in all district health centres to improve reproductive health services which, at the moment, are bleak.
This is a heartfelt undertaking that will whittle down maternal and infant mortality rates much further. We are told that the move is part of the broader strategy to register no maternal and child deaths at all in the near future.
We are also told that the maternity waiting rooms will shelter pregnant women who live far from health centres and those who might have attendant health complications such as high blood pressure – which needs close monitoring before delivery.
Midwives believe that with any pregnancy there is a possibility that something may go wrong. Pregnancy complications cannot be predicted; especially when the pregnant woman is a new mother.
If a birth is likely to be difficult, it should take place in a competent hospital or health clinic. Pregnant women are equally vulnerable to the ravages of nature as are newborns. Both should be protected. A chance for a mother is a chance for her infant.