UNICEF donates 10 ambulances to TZ local community, determined to reduce deaths of mothers and children

Delays in receiving medical care is an underlying cause of most deaths of women and children in Mbeya region of Tanzania. To tackle this problem UNICEF and the country’s ministry of health are vigorously promoting measures that will enhance timely referral of patients who need urgent care and thus improve maternal, new-born and child survival.

As part of this initiative, UNICEF has handed over ten ambulances to Mbeya local authorities Thursday.
“With the support of health workers and community leaders, we can improve access to lifesaving interventions for mothers, infants and children quickly,” Dr. Jama Gulaid, UNICEF Tanzania Representative said a statement adding “we are excited about this initiative and are grateful for the support of all partners particularly, the Republic of Korea.”

UNICEF is using an integrated approach to improving maternal, new-born and child survival in Mbeya by strengthening district health systems through capacity building of health workers, supporting integrated maternal, neonatal and child health supervision, conducting regular maternal and perinatal death reviews as well as, from now on, strengthening emergency referrals systems in every council of Mbeya Region.

Maternal and child health indicators in Mbeya have not shown significant improvement in the past decade despite positive economic changes. According to the 2012 Population and Housing Census, children aged under-five mortality rate in the region was 71 per 1,000 live births which is higher than national average of 66 per 1,000 live births. The maternal death ratio is also higher in the area 776 per 100,000 live births compared to 432 per 100,000 live births nationwide.

“Saving the lives children and mothers is an important goal for UNICEF in Tanzania, everyday, simple, high-impact, and cost effective solutions are contributing to the reduction of under-five deaths,”Dr. Jama Gulaid underscored.

Diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria continue to be the main killers of children in Mbeya, with malnutrition and HIV as underlying causes of childhood deaths. To address this, UNICEF has supported the introduction of highly effective vaccines – rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines in 2013. UNICEF also helped strengthen the cold chain system to protect the vaccines in all regions of Tanzania including Mbeya, which is among the regions with high immunization coverage.

In 2000, the world made a promise to reduce deaths among children under-five by two thirds by 2015, compared to 1990 levels, the benchmark year for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

As the world embarks on a new journey with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is worth remembering that in Tanzania, overall child mortality has declined dramatically, such that the MDG4 target of 54 deaths per 1,000 live births has already been achieved. But mortality among newborns has fallen more slowly, and deaths of babies under 28 days of age account for 40 per cent of all under-five deaths.

‘Tanzania deserves commendation for achieving MDG 4, reduction of child mortality rate. But much work lies ahead to save the lives of mothers and new born children. Let’s work together and help Tanzania keep the promise it has made to its children,” Gulaid said