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April 25, 2016

Newly Renovated Maternal Health Operating Theater Handed Over in Tanzania

(25 April 2016, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and New York, USA): World Lung Foundation Tanzania has handed over a newly renovated operating theater to the Kakonko District Council and health center staff, after spending 120 million Tanzanian shillings (US $53,000) to update the facility and improve its readiness to perform life-saving emergency obstetric care.

The handover ceremony was officiated by the Kakonko district commissioner Peter Toima and witnessed by Kakonko health center staff and citizens. “We are grateful for this newly renovated facility, which is now making life-saving procedures possible at our health center,” said Mr Toima. He also took the opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to reduce maternal and infant mortality in line with stated national and international goals.

Kakonko, which is situated in the north of Kigoma region, was recently established as a newly designated district after being split from the jurisdiction of Kibondo district. Kakonko has an estimated population of over 150,000 people, and limited infrastructure. Kakonko health center, which was already vital to the health of people living in the area, is now in the process of becoming a district hospital in order to meet the full range of health needs of the residents of this newly formed district.

The new operating theater is part of that process of modernization, with the renovation including new plumbing, flooring, electrical fixtures and fittings, and a new access ramp to help transfer women more quickly, safely and comfortably from the maternity ward to the operating theatre. It will be used to help save the lives of expectant mothers, who at times travel long distances to the health facility to deliver their babies. Some women arrive with complications that demand immediate intervention, leaving little or no time for referral to another facility. The new theater enables local health professionals to deliver essential emergency obstetric care in Kakonko.

“We now are assured that our wives and mothers have a better chance to survive, thanks to World Lung Foundation,” said Juma Maganga, chair of the District Council.

Commenting on behalf of World Lung Foundation, Dr Nguke Mwakatundu said: “We are delighted to have undertaken this project to enable women to have better access to life-saving facilities without having to travel to other districts. We are sure it will make a difference and send our goodwill to the people of Kakonko, staff at the facility and the district authorities.”

About the World Lung Foundation Tanzania Maternal Health Program

Recently published data from WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and The World Bank estimate that Tanzania, which accounted for 3% of global maternal deaths in 2013, reduced its maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by 55% between 1990 and 2013. Since 2008, World Lung Foundation has been working to help reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in Tanzania by implementing a state-of-the-art maternal health program. 

The program, which has received financial support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Fondation H&B Agerup, aims to improve women’s access to good-quality, comprehensive emergency obstetric care, particularly in rural and isolated areas. World Lung Foundation can point to a number of accomplishments across geographically strategic health centers and hospitals in eight districts in the Kigoma, Morogoro and Pwani regions. Since 2008: 

  • World Lung Foundation has actively upgraded, renovated or rebuilt 10 rural health centers and four district hospitals to ensure the provision of life-saving comprehensive emergency obstetric care. Prior to the program, patients had to travel three to four hours to the nearest hospital. Now, emergency obstetric care is available in the community.
  • More than 100 assistant medical officers, nurse-midwives, and clinical officers have been trained in comprehensive emergency obstetric care or anesthesia. 
  • Health center utilization for delivery care has increased substantially, from about 3,500 deliveries per year in nine health centers prior to the program to about 12,300 in 2014 after World Lung Foundation’s intervention. 
  • More than 2,500 C-sections have been performed in supported health centers that could not have provided this service prior to World Lung Foundation’s maternal health program. 

More information about the World Lung Foundation Tanzania Maternal Health Program can be found at http://www.worldlungfoundation.org/maternalhealth and http://worldlungfoundation.org/ht/d/sp/i/35469/pid/35469

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Tracey Johnston at +44.7889.081.170 or tjohnston@vitalstrategies.org.
 

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