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More trained midwives urgently needed to save lives




SAVE the Children Tanzania has asked government to come up with strategies that will ensure a sufficient number trained midwives in the country to help mothers deliver safely.

Country Director, Save the Children, Mr Steve Thorne said in Dar es Salaam on Saturday more trained midwives would help prevent the current alarming rate of newborn deaths.

“Childbirth is often complicated and a newborn child is frighteningly vulnerable. A trained midwife provides lifesaving support.

This might be in clearing a baby’s airway passage, hygienically cutting the umbilical cord or giving urgent care to a baby born prematurely,” he said.

According to Save the Children’s State of the World Mothers Report released last year, Tanzania was placed amongst the top ten countries with the highest rate of the newborn deaths with 17,000 babies dying on their first day of life.

A total of 48,100 newborn deaths occur per year. This represents a 2 per cent share of global newborn deaths on the first day of life mainly attributed to complications during delivery, low facility delivery and the lack of essential care for new born babies especially for babies born in rural settings.

Basing on the report, Mr Thorne said that government in collaboration with other partners should ensure all new mothers receive the support of a trained midwife who is provided with basic medicines and equipment.

He also called on Tanzania to collaborate with world leaders, philanthropists and the private sector to commit to a global action plan to ensure that in ten years’ time, every mother will have a midwife present at delivery.

“We also want all fees for delivery removed. Saving newborn babies is our organisation’s top priority for 2014. We can be the generation to end preventable child deaths. We need the political will,” he said.

He highly praised government for setting up important policy changes to improve its readiness to expand neonatal health support.

Programme Manager for Newborn and Child Health at Save the Children, Dr Rachel Makunde, called on government to place more focus on planning and budgeting for life saving interventions including scaling up Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) to reach district hospitals and health centres.

“Premature births contribute to about 35 per cent of newborn babies. Interventions targeting pre-term and low birth weight babies like KMC contribute significantly to reduction of mortality,” she noted.