PPP drives up maternal health targets in Tanzania

ALMOST a year after its countrywide rollout launch in April 2022, the M-mama national emergency transportation system has successfully expanded to five more regions, connecting pregnant women in remote areas with an emergency and toll-free healthcare line.

M-mama’s ambitions align well with Tanzania agenda to meet SDG 3, which is to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per cent per 100,000 live births by 2030.

Within this period, an estimated 578 lives were saved, 83 per cent of them being related to maternal and 17 per cent neonatal.

The M-mama system implemented through a close partnership between the Vodacom Foundation, the government and local communities has since expanded to Morogoro, Lindi, Dodoma and Tanga regions as well as Zanzibar.

Active preparations to go-live are ongoing in eight regions namely Singida, Manyara, Mtwara, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Mbeya, Songwe and Rukwa.

Established with the sole purpose of reducing maternal and infant mortality rate particularly in the most remote parts of rural Tanzania, M-mama has since recorded 16,159 emergency calls in the five mainland regions and Zanzibar, further demonstrating the dire need of emergency health care services amongst pregnant women in rural areas.

Speaking of the M-mama experience, one of the beneficiaries of the programme in Kahama District, Shinyanga Region, Ms Agnes John said: “M-mama has helped me tremendously, if there was no M-mama perhaps I and the baby would have died, without the driver who was called and rushed me to the hospital in Lunguya. I am so grateful for this service. M-mama has saved myself and my child.”

Giving an account of his contribution to the programme, a taxi driver in Kahama who doubles as an emergency community driver for M-mama following appropriate training and onboarding, Mr Makala Shedrack said, “As a driver my phone number and home address are registered with the dispatch centre in Kahama. I am very sharp.

Once you get a call to transport a patient, it’s an emergency and it’s important to get them to a facility that can better cater to them.”

For his part, Ezekiel Mitakwa, a nurse at Mbizi Dispensary in Kahama, said “Since the M-mama emergency system commenced operations, we have seen less case of maternal and infant deaths.”

The government through the Ministry of Health and President’s Office Regional Authority and Local Government together with Vodacom, through its CSR arm, Vodacom Tanzania Foundation, are hard at work, rolling out M-mama to more regions, providing solutions to health challenges facing pregnant women in rural Tanzania, leveraging technology as an anchor for the success of m-mama.

The plan is to have m-mama live and operational across the country by September 2023.

The partnership between the government and Vodacom Tanzania Foundation in implementing m-mama program goes in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 17, where private-public partnership is enhanced for sustainable development.

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