Tanzania: Dar es Salaam Launches Modern Maternal Care Programme
BY FARAJA MGWABATI
Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)
A PILOT project that seeks to make available portable devices for diagnosing and monitoring progress of pregnant women in rural areas was recently launched.The project being jointly implemented by US-based GE Healthcare and Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), began in Kisarawe two weeks ago. It targets to help Tanzania achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four and five.
IHI Research Scientist Selemani Mbuyita said at Kisarawe District Hospital that the pilot project was conceived after studies revealed that maternal deaths in rural areas were mainly caused by complications during pregnancy and delivery.
"Pregnant women require a lot of attention, but in Tanzania we lack devices to detect complications at early stages. Where there are devices few health attendants know how to use them," Mr Mbuyita said.
The project started with 12-day training for 14 Tanzanian health workers who would later be engaged in using devices recently developed by GE. The devices include pocket-size Vscan and portable venue 40 ultrasound. In maternal clinics the devices are used to diagnose and monitor development of foetus in pregnant women.
Mr Mbuyita said after training of local health workers the technology would be formally introduced at Kisarawe District Hospital, Masaki Health Centre, Gwata, Kihare, Kurui, Homboza and Kimala Misale dispensaries in the district. The one-year project set to cost 150,000 US dollars (about 200m/-) would later be assessed and considered to be scaled up to other parts of the country.
"If the project is going to be successful and practical we shall advise the government to spread it to villages or wards throughout the country," Mr Mbuyita said. Mr Mbuyita said less than 50 per cent of women in Tanzania deliver in health centres or under the attention of a qualified nurse or midwife.
The Director of GE Healthcare programmes for Health Magination, Ms Janeen Uzzell, said her firm was committed to working with stakeholders in the health sector across Africa to enable the peole access to quality and affordable services.