1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. East Africa
  4. Tanzania

Home deliveries contribute to mother, child deaths

Pregnant woman in Praia. Preventing transmission of HIV to babies is esential.
(Sofia Teixeira/PlusNews)

More than half Zanzibar’s mothers deliver their children at home without access to medical help at health facilities, an official said.

"Fewer than 50 percent of the pregnant women in Zanzibar give birth in health facilities; the rest give birth at home with assistance from traditional birth attendants," said Hanuni Waziri, manager of the maternal and child health programme in the Zanzibar Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

Maternal mortality was estimated at 377 per 100,000 live births, Waziri said at the launch of a roadmap to accelerate the reduction of maternal, newborn, and child deaths in Stone Town on 25 February.

According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), about half a million women die every year in childbirth worldwide. In Tanzania, approximately 8,000 women die every year due to pregnancy and childbirth and 57 percent deliver at home.

While the country had achieved a 30 percent reduction in child mortality and a 20 percent decrease in newborn deaths in the past five years, infant mortality remained high at nearly 10 deaths per 1,000 live births. Close to one-quarter of all births are unplanned and 40 percent of women remain in dire need of reproductive health services.

Maternal mortality in Zanzibar, Waziri said, was mainly a result of severe bleeding during and after delivery and eclampsia, exacerbated by inadequate skilled attendants, a negative attitude among staff and lack of facilities in primary healthcare units.

UNFPA executive director Thoraya Obeid, who was on five-day visit to Tanzania, said maternal and child deaths had remained a big problem in the past 20 years despite global efforts.

"We need political will and availability of funds to reduce deaths," Obeid said at the launch of the eight-year programme. UNFPA, she added, was committed to supporting the programme in the islands.

"A country is judged on how it treats its women and children," she said. "Medical doctors and experience show that access to family planning, skilled care, and emergency care has a great impact on reducing maternal deaths."

Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume said the semi-autonomous island of one million people planned to reduce maternal and child deaths by 2015. “We have recorded dramatic success in combating malaria; through unity and determination we will also reduce maternal and child deaths.”

Waziri said the focus of the programme would be to increase skilled personnel and advocate for family planning.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Help make quality journalism about crises possible

The New Humanitarian is an independent, non-profit newsroom founded in 1995. We deliver quality, reliable journalism about crises and big issues impacting the world today. Our reporting on humanitarian aid has uncovered sex scandals, scams, data breaches, corruption, and much more.


Our readers trust us to hold power in the multi-billion-dollar aid sector accountable and to amplify the voices of those impacted by crises. We’re on the ground, reporting from the front lines, to bring you the inside story. 


We keep our journalism free – no paywalls – thanks to the support of donors and readers like you who believe we need more independent journalism in the world. Your contribution means we can continue delivering award-winning journalism about crises. Become a member of The New Humanitarian today

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.