Improving Maternal Health in Tanzania

In Tanzania, there are 566 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births, representing the sixth highest maternal mortality ratio in the world, according to the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey. The Kigoma Region, which consists of rural and poor communities located in western Tanzania, has the poorest maternal health outcomes in the country. To address this problem, the CDC Foundation has supported the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in monitoring and evaluating the Maternal and Reproductive Health in Tanzania Project. According to data released today by the CDC Foundation, an estimated 2,100 maternal deaths were potentially averted between 2011–2018 in Kigoma Region.

A major accomplishment of the project was the increase in skilled deliveries in Kigoma. Increasing the proportion of births taking place at health facilities allows for more women to have skilled attendants during delivery to prevent and treat any complications, which is an important strategy for improving maternal health and birth outcomes. Prior to the project, Kigoma had one of the lowest facility delivery rates in the country. Through the increased access to appropriate care in facilities, fewer women have died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and delivery in the region. 

The project aims to not only improve maternal health, but also build a foundation for the Tanzanian government and health facilities to continue to improve obstetric care services in the region. Since 2010, CDC has evaluated program outcomes and also conducted capacity building trainings and data dissemination events for regional and district health care workers and government officials. This allows for the transition of monitoring and evaluation of the program to be sustained locally.

This project was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Fondation H&B Agerup and included implementing partners Thamini Uhai, Vital Strategies and EngenderHealth. The implementing partners have led interventions to prevent maternal deaths and increase access to emergency obstetric care and other health services by upgrading health facilities and training health workers.

The comprehensive findings of the evaluation of the project were presented in a series of executive summaries that were shared with Tanzanian government officials, partners and other stakeholders this week. The presentation of these findings marks the final transition of the project to the Tanzanian government, which has committed to continue program activities.

The CDC Foundation is proud to support this lifesaving work to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and build healthcare monitoring capacity in Kigoma. 

Photo above: © Evelyn Hockstein / CDC Foundation



Amanda Gailey, MPH, MAT, is a senior program officer for the CDC Foundation.
Suzanne McMillan is an intern for the CDC Foundation and works on the Maternal and Reproductive Health in Tanzania program.