BY DEVOTA MWACHANG`A, IPP Media
President Jakaya Kikwete has reiterated the government’s resolve to help its 100 hospitals and 200 health centres offer improved maternal health and other services.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday during the launch of a campaign to accelerate reduction of child and maternal mortality in Africa, Kikwete said in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hadji Mponda that all health service outlets would be availed with essential maternal health equipment.
He said the equipment which would be used to help pregnant women during delivery would be distributed starting the coming financial year (2011/12).
“All pregnant women attending clinics countrywide will be provided with delivery kits to ensure safe delivery,” the president said.
The programme would be implemented in stages, beginning with Dodoma and Coast regions before spreading to other regions.
Kikwete said in a move to improve health service accessibility and quality to the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the government had embarked on a nationwide rehabilitation of its dispensaries, hospitals and health centres.
He said the upgraded centres would be able to carry out surgical operations during emergencies.
Initially, emergency surgery services were only available at district hospitals, but currently there are some health centres providing the services. These are in Singida, Kigoma, Morogoro, Dodoma and Coast regions.
“Our target is to reach 70 per cent of all health centres in the country by the year 2015”, he noted.
President Kikwete also said the government has taken serious measures to address the problem of shortage of health workers by increasing student enrollment in health colleges.
He said students’ intake in the colleges had increased four-fold over the past three years. He said while in 2007 there were 1,013 students, according to last year’s statistics there are 6,713 students in all health colleges in the country. The target is to reach 10,000 students by the year 2015.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Blandina Nyoni, said the improvement of health centres had resulted into reduced child mortality rate.
Elaborating, Nyoni said deaths of children under five years for the past ten years were 147 deaths in every 1,000 newborns, but the number had declined in 2010.
She said that to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) target child mortality rate for under five children should be reduced to 54 deaths in every 1,000 births.
According to the PS, child deaths had been reduced to 145,000 annually. Over the past ten years, the number stood at 223,000 per year.
Earlier, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Dr Alberic Kacou, congratulated the government for taking major steps and collective actions to ensure that no woman dies during delivery.
He said that UN applauded the national maternal and child health campaign, saying that it was a true reflection of partnership that incorporated all levels.
Kacou said the UN had since 2007 been investing in improving maternal health and ensure reduction of newborn deaths.