ZANZIBAR President Dr Hussein Mwinyi on Saturday called for concerted efforts to curb maternal and infant mortality in the country, saying the rate of deaths among expectant mothers and infants remain disturbingly high.
“The rate of maternal and infant mortality in the country remains high…statistics show that 134 mothers die out of 100,000 live deliveries; and 28 infants die out of 1,000 live births,” Dr Mwinyi said at Maisara grounds during the ‘Birth is life’ campaign rally.
He, however commended efforts by development partners, including international organisations, private institutions and companies to support the government in protecting the lives of mothers and infants.
President Mwinyi appreciated the development partners’ contribution, especially in social development through health, education and clean and safe water sectors in the country.
He particularly commended AMREF Health Africa for organising the ‘Birth is Life’ campaign to raise over 1bn/- for procurement of medical equipment in support of safe deliveries in the islands.
“I sincerely wish to thank Amref Health Africa for the mobile health van, which will be a great relief to the Ministry of Health’s operations, including transportation of medics, samples and provision of testing and counselling services to wananchi,” Dr Mwinyi said.
The President said the government is keen to address maternal and infant mortality in the country to make “giving birth a safe and an enjoyable experience,” attributing the current high mortality rate to poor services at heath facilities due to lack of medics and medicines.
President Mwinyi expressed optimism over the campaign to support the government in supplying medical equipment to 28 health centres, over 40 per cent of the 69 centres that offer maternal and child services in the islands.
He further said the government is working hard to improve primary health services in the country, with special focus on maternal services to protect the lives of expectant mothers and their infants.
Speaking at the campaign which had by Thursday raised 792m/- in pledges and 557m/- cash, Deputy Health Minister Hassan Khamis Hafidh said AMREF and the ministry have partnered to address maternal and infant mortality in the country.
He said the government has devised various strategies to address the problem, citing stern legal and disciplinary measures against health workers who violate the professional rules and regulations.
The deputy minister said laziness, abusive language and indiscipline which affect expectant mothers and infants are intolerable offences in the country.
AMREF Africa Country Representative Dr Florence Temu said the aim of the three-year campaign is to raise 1bn/- for procurement of medical equipment for 69 hospitals and health centres in Zanzibar.
She described the campaign as a great success, saying just in the second year, it has collected 557m/- in cash and 883m/- pledges.