EXPECTANT mothers have been urged by the government, in its efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality in the country, to fully make use of the newly constructed and improved health facilities countrywide.
CCM Presidential candidate, Dr John Magufuli made the call on Thursday while addressing Vwawa residents in Songwe Region, saying the government has invested a lot in health infrastructures, to ensure their easy access for the crucial services.
President Magufuli, who is seeking a second five- year term said, expectant mothers are supposed to attend antenatal clinics because the government constructed the facilities to ensure they get reliable services in efforts to reduce child and maternal mortality in the country.
“It is costly to construct these health facilities, a single health centre is built at a cost of 500m/- …we are constructing them to ensure that mothers, children, elders and the general public have access to the crucial services,” Dr Magufuli said.
He said that expectant mothers should attend antenatal clinics voluntarily because it is crucial for their health and children, while outlawing charging them a penalty of 50,000/-, earlier imposed against those who refuse to attend antenatal clinics.
Dr Magufuli’s remarks follow complaints by Vwawa residents that expectant mothers who attend antenatal clinics at later stages are fined 50,000/-.
However, he directed the Ministry of Health Community Development Gender, elderly and Children to ensure that expectant mothers are not penalized; instead, they should be educated to voluntarily attend the clinics.
“Improving maternal and child healthcare is one of the priorities of the fifth phase government with the aim of reducing maternal and child mortality in the country,” Dr Magufuli noted.
“Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey and Malaria Indicator Survey 2015/16 indicates that maternal mortality ratio is 556 deaths per 100,000 live births, but the government has set a target of reducing the number of deaths from 556 to 292 per 100,000 live births by 2020,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Health, in 2019/2020, the number of expectant mothers who completed four or more antenatal care visits was 77 per cent compared to 41 per cent in the same period in 2015/2016.
Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender Elderly and Children Ms Ummy Mwalimu said recently that the number of women who give birth in health facilities has increased to 83 per cent in March this year compared to 64 per cent the same period in 2015/16.
“I call upon expectant mother to visit antenatal clinics earlier and complete all the required visits and give birth in health facilities,” she said.
In the past five years, health facilities have increased from 7, 014 in 2015 to 8, 783 in 2020, where dispensaries have increased from 6,044 of 2015 to 7242 in 2020, health centres have increased from 718 in 2015 to 1,205 in 2020.
District council hospitals have increased from 77 in 2015 to 148 in 2020, the number includes 71 new hospitals.
The government has also constructed 10 regional hospitals, including Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Hospital in Mara Region, whose construction was stalled since 1970.