An article appearing in today’s New York Times by Denise Grady sheds light on the challenges faced by struggling medical facilities in Tanzania. Not only is there a shortage of qualified practitioners in the country, but also a dearth of prenatal care and education — problems contributing to the 13,000 deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth that occur in the country every year. You can read the full article at the link above, but here’s a short summary of what seem to be the biggest hurdles standing between Tanzanian women and the life-saving care they need:
Hundreds more medical assistants, midwives, traditional birth attendants and rural clinics are needed to cover all of the women seeking obstetric care.
Most women need to travel too far to receive adequate care during childbirth, discouraging many from going to professional and sanitary facilities (only about 20 percent do).
Traditional practices jeopardize healthy deliveries (i.e. taking herbs to speed labor).
Many patients require cesarean sections, an incredibly dangerous procedure outside of the hospital environment without trained physicians.
The article highlights a hospital in Berega that serves a community of 200,000 without a single obstetrician or pediatrician. In addition to highlighting the magnitude of the problem, Grady pitches several solutions, including long-term housing for women who live far away leading up to delivery, incentive packages for doctors, and ideas for educational programs.