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Results for Maternal Health Infrastructure Program in Tanzania

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

World Lung Foundation (WLF) today announced the successful completion of the second year in a maternal health infrastructure project in rural Tanzania.  The two-year $3 million grant, which was awarded to Ifakara Health Research and Development Centre, is to train assistant medical officers (AMOS), upgrade health centers, provide solar electricity, improve system-wide water supplies, and establish mechanisms for safe processing and transport of blood. The project also pilots a voucher system to fund transporting people in need of medical care.  

In a study published today in Health Affairs, co-author and WLF consultant Colin McCord details how infrastructure and access to facilities are the main limiting factors in effective emergency obstetrical care.  World Lung Foundation's project in Tanzania has already yielded significant health care improvements:

  • Six assistant medical officers and midwives have been trained to perform emergency surgery, provide anesthesia, maintain surgical facilities, and improve delivery and surgical/obstetric outcomes
  • Three maternity wards and operating theaters have been renovated and equipped
  • Three district health centers have been upgraded  with new operating rooms, surgical equipment, electricity, generators and water supplies
  • 25 new staff houses have been built in health centers to provide housing for medical staff and attract personnel to work in isolated areas.

The Health Affairs study  examined 1,134 complicated deliveries and 1,072 major obstetrical operations and found that there were no significant differences between the quality of care given by medical officers and AMOs, who are typically non-physician clinicians trained in emergency surgery.



Dr. Colin McCord, said, “Maternal health in Tanzania has made tremendous progress by training AMOs to do basic emergency surgeries; the task now is ensuring there are enough operational clinics within reach of the population and making sure patients can get to those clinics.”

The projected number of women receiving treatment for complicated deliveries will increase from 24% to 60%, and hospital case fatality from complicated deliveries is expected to shrink from 1.2% to below 1%, saving the lives of 360 mothers and 1,500 newborn children each year.

“Lung health does not exist in a vacuum and in remote regions there may be only one practitioner for everything from pneumonia to TB treatment to surgery,” said Peter Baldini, Executive Director of World Lung Foundation. “The Kigoma Project demonstrates that adding basic infrastructure and enhancing the skill sets of those few local medical officers can have a dramatic effect on lung health and beyond.”