Dar es Saalam, Tanzania – Throughout my travels in Tanzania for the past ten days every time I saw a mother and her baby I smiled inside. And I was even more happy to see mothers breastfeeding their babies as breastfeeding has been proven to be a key intervention to keep more children under the age of five alive in developing countries.
Tanzania, unfortunately, is one of ten countries where 65 percent of the world’s child deaths occur. Compared to India, the country with the most child deaths at nearly 900,000 per year, Tanzania’s child mortality rate is low, but for it’s population size, the percentage is quite high.
Tanzanian mothers lose 48,000 children a year (17,000 on the first day of life). Most newborns die due to asphyxia, infections, and preterm birth here. Additionally, the maternal mortality rate in Tanzania strongly correlates to the child mortality rate. In Tanzania, maternal anemia rates due to malnutrition are leading to 20 percent of all maternal deaths. And in the rural areas, where most Tanzanians live, expectant mothers typically do not have a trained birth attendant to help deliver babies and only 50 percent of Tanzanian mothers give birth in a health facility. These factors contribute to the high maternal and newborn mortality rate. In fact, Tanzania loses 454 mothers per 100,000 live births due to complications during childbirth.
There is good news, however. The Tanzanian government is including key interventions to reduce child mortality included in its National Road Map Strategic Plan to Accelerate Reductions of Maternal, Newborn and Child Births which was devised in 2008 and has an end date of 2015 to reach Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. While the child mortality rate in
Tanzania is improving, maternal mortality rates have remained stagnant.
Reporting was made possible by a fellowship from the International Reporting Project.
All photos copyright of Jennifer James