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1.  Knowledge about safe motherhood and HIV/AIDS among school pupils in a rural area in Tanzania 
Background
The majority of adolescents in Africa experience pregnancy, childbirth and enter motherhood without adequate information about maternal health issues. Information about these issues could help them reduce their pregnancy related health risks. Existing studies have concentrated on adolescents' knowledge of other areas of reproductive health, but little is known about their awareness and knowledge of safe motherhood issues. We sought to bridge this gap by assessing the knowledge of school pupils regarding safe motherhood in Mtwara Region, Tanzania.
Methods
We used qualitative and quantitative descriptive methods to assess school pupils' knowledge of safe motherhood and HIV/AIDS in pregnancy. An anonymous questionnaire was used to assess the knowledge of 135 pupils ranging in age from 9 to 17 years. The pupils were randomly selected from 3 primary schools. Underlying beliefs and attitudes were assessed through focus group interviews with 35 school children. Key informant interviews were conducted with six schoolteachers, two community leaders, and two health staffs.
Results
Knowledge about safe motherhood and other related aspects was generally low. While 67% of pupils could not mention the age at which a girl may be able to conceive, 80% reported it is safe for a girl to be married before she reaches 18 years. Strikingly, many school pupils believed that complications during pregnancy and childbirth are due to non-observance of traditions and taboos during pregnancy. Birth preparedness, important risk factors, danger signs, postpartum care and vertical transmission of HIV/AIDS and its prevention measures were almost unknown to the pupils.
Conclusion
Poor knowledge of safe motherhood issues among school pupils in rural Tanzania is related to lack of effective and coordinated interventions to address reproductive health and motherhood. For long-term and sustained impact, school children must be provided with appropriate safe motherhood information as early as possible through innovative school-based interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-5
PMCID: PMC1868762  PMID: 17456230
2.  Effectiveness of community based safe motherhood promoters in improving the utilization of obstetric care. The case of Mtwara Rural District in Tanzania 
Background
In Tanzania, maternal mortality ratio remains unacceptably high at 578/100,000 live births. Despite a high coverage of antenatal care (96%), only 44% of deliveries take place within the formal health services. Still, "Ensure skilled attendant at birth" is acknowledged as one of the most effective interventions to reduce maternal deaths. Exploring the potential of community-based interventions in increasing the utilization of obstetric care, the study aimed at developing, testing and assessing a community-based safe motherhood intervention in Mtwara rural District of Tanzania.
Method
This community-based intervention was designed as a pre-post comparison study, covering 4 villages with a total population of 8300. Intervention activities were implemented by 50 trained safe motherhood promoters (SMPs). Their tasks focused on promoting early and complete antenatal care visits and delivery with a skilled attendant. Data on all 512 deliveries taking place from October 2004 to November 2006 were collected by the SMPs and cross-checked with health service records. In addition 242 respondents were interviewed with respect to knowledge on safe motherhood issues and their perception of the SMP's performance. Skilled delivery attendance was our primary outcome; secondary outcomes included antenatal care attendance and knowledge on Safe Motherhood issues.
Results
Deliveries with skilled attendant significantly increased from 34.1% to 51.4% (ρ < 0.05). Early ANC booking (4 to 16 weeks) rose significantly from 18.7% at baseline to 37.7% in 2005 and 56.9% (ρ < 0.001) at final assessment. After two years 44 (88%) of the SMPs were still active, 79% of pregnant women were visited. Further benefits included the enhancement of male involvement in safe motherhood issues.
Conclusion
The study has demonstrated the effectiveness of community-based safe motherhood intervention in promoting the utilization of obstetric care and a skilled attendant at delivery. This improvement is attributed to the SMPs' home visits and the close collaboration with existing community structures as well as health services.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-14
PMCID: PMC2858713  PMID: 20359341
3.  Use pattern of maternal health services and determinants of skilled care during delivery in Southern Tanzania: implications for achievement of MDG-5 targets 
Background
Almost two decades since the initiation of the Safe motherhood Initiative, Maternal Mortality is still soaring high in most developing countries. In 2000 WHO estimated a life time risk of a maternal death of 1 in 16 in Sub- Saharan Africa while it was only 1 in 2800 in developed countries. This huge discrepancy in the rate of maternal deaths is due to differences in access and use of maternal health care services. It is known that having a skilled attendant at every delivery can lead to marked reductions in maternal mortality. For this reason, the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel is one of the indicators used to monitor progress towards the achievement of the MDG-5 of improving maternal health.
Methods
Cross sectional study which employed quantitative research methods.
Results
We interviewed 974 women who gave birth within one year prior to the survey. Although almost all (99.8%) attended ANC at least once during their last pregnancy, only 46.7% reported to deliver in a health facility and only 44.5% were assisted during delivery by a skilled attendant. Distance to the health facility (OR = 4.09 (2.72–6.16)), discussion with the male partner on place of delivery (OR = 2.37(1.75–3.22)), advise to deliver in a health facility during ANC (OR = 1.43 (1.25–2.63)) and knowledge of pregnancy risk factors (OR 2.95 (1.65–5.25)) showed significant association with use of skilled care at delivery even after controlling for confounding factors.
Conclusion
Use of skilled care during delivery in this district is below the target set by ICPD + of attaining 80% of deliveries attended by skilled personnel by 2005. We recommend the following in order to increase the pace towards achieving the MDG targets: to improve coverage of health facilities, raising awareness for both men and women on danger signs during pregnancy/delivery and strengthening counseling on facility delivery and individual birth preparedness.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-29
PMCID: PMC2222241  PMID: 18053268
4.  The unmet need for Emergency Obstetric Care in Tanga Region, Tanzania 
Background
Improving maternal health by reducing maternal mortality constitutes the fifth Millennium Development Goal and represents a key public health challenge in the United Republic of Tanzania. In response to the need to evaluate and monitor safe motherhood interventions, this study aims at assessing the coverage of obstetric care according to the Unmet Obstetric Need (UON) concept by obtaining information on indications for, and outcomes of, major obstetric interventions. Furthermore, we explore whether this concept can be operationalised at district level.
Methods
A two year study using the Unmet Obstetric Need concept was carried out in three districts in Tanga Region, Tanzania. Data was collected prospectively at all four hospitals in the region for every woman undergoing a major obstetric intervention, including indication and outcome. The concept was adapted to address differentials in access to emergency obstetric care between districts and between rural and urban areas. Based upon literature and expert consensus, a threshold of 2% of all deliveries was used to define the expected minimum requirement of major obstetric interventions performed for absolute maternal indications.
Results
Protocols covering 1,260 complicated deliveries were analysed. The percentage of major obstetric interventions carried out in response to an absolute maternal indication was only 71%; most major obstetric interventions (97%) were caesarean sections. The most frequent indication was cephalo-pelvic-disproportion (51%). The proportion of major obstetric interventions for absolute maternal indications performed amongst women living in urban areas was 1.8% of all deliveries, while in rural areas it was only 0.7%. The high proportion (8.3%) of negative maternal outcomes in terms of morbidity and mortality, as well as the high perinatal mortality of 9.1% (still birth 6.9%, dying within 24 hours 1.7%, dying after 24 hours 0.5%) raise concern about the quality of care being provided.
Conclusion
Based on the 2% threshold, Tanga Region – with an overall level of major obstetric interventions for absolute maternal indications of 1% and a caesarean section rate of 1.4% – has significant unmet obstetric need with a considerable rural-urban disparity. The UON concept was found to be a suitable tool for evaluating and monitoring the coverage of obstetric care at district level.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-16
PMCID: PMC1988833  PMID: 17683590
5.  How much time do health services spend on antenatal care? Implications for the introduction of the focused antenatal care model in Tanzania 
Background
Antenatal care (ANC) is a widely used strategy to improve the health of pregnant women and to encourage skilled care during childbirth. In 2002, the Ministry of Health of the United Republic of Tanzania developed a national adaptation plan based on the new model of the World Health Organisation (WHO). In this study we assess the time health workers currently spent on providing ANC services and compare it to the requirements anticipated for the new ANC model in order to identify the implications of Focused ANC on health care providers' workload.
Methods
Health workers in four dispensaries in Mtwara Urban District, Southern Tanzania, were observed while providing routine ANC. The time used for the overall activity as well as for the different, specific components of 71 ANC service provisions was measured in detail; 28 of these were first visits and 43 revisits. Standard time requirements for the provision of focused ANC were assessed through simulated consultations based on the new guidelines.
Results
The average time health workers currently spend for providing ANC service to a first visit client was found to be 15 minutes; the provision of ANC according to the focused ANC model was assessed to be 46 minutes. For a revisiting client the difference between current practise and the anticipated standard of the new model was 27 minutes (9 vs. 36 min.). The major discrepancy between the two procedures was related to counselling. On average a first visit client was counselled for 1:30 minutes, while counselling in revisiting clients did hardly take place at all. The simulation of focused ANC revealed that proper counselling would take about 15 minutes per visit.
Conclusion
While the introduction of focused ANC has the potential to improve the health of pregnant women and to raise the number of births attended by skilled staff in Tanzania, it may need additional investment in human resources. The generally anticipated saving effect of the new model through the reduction of routine consultations may not materialise because the number of consultations is already low in Tanzania with a median of only 4 visits per pregnancy. Special attention needs to be given to counselling attitudes and skills during the training for Focused ANC as this component is identified as the major difference between old practise and the new model. Our estimated requirement of 46 minutes per first visit consultation matches well with the WHO estimate of 40 minutes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-6-22
PMCID: PMC1557863  PMID: 16796749
6.  Malaria and anemia prevention in pregnant women of rural Burkina Faso 
Background
Pregnant women are a major risk group for malaria in endemic areas. Only little information exists on the compliance of pregnant women with malaria and anaemia preventive drug regimens in the rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In this study, we collected information on malaria and anaemia prevention behaviour in pregnant women of rural Burkina Faso.
Methods
Cross-sectional qualitative and quantitative survey among 225 women of eight villages in rural northwestern Burkina Faso. Four of the villages had a health centre offering antenatal care (ANC) services while the other four were more than five kilometers away from a health centre.
Results
Overall ANC coverage (at least one visit) was 71% (95% in health centre villages vs 50% in remote villages). Malaria and anaemia were considered as the biggest problems during pregnancy in this community. ANC using women were quite satisfied with the quality of services, and compliance with malaria and anaemia prevention regimens (chloroquine and iron/folic acid) was high in this population. Knowledge on the benefit of bed nets and good nutrition was less prominent. Distance, lack of money and ignorance were the main reasons for women to not attend ANC services.
Conclusions
There is an urgent need to improve access of rural SSA women to ANC services, either through increasing the number of rural health centres or establishing functioning outreach services. Moreover, alternative malaria and anaemia prevention programmes such as intermittent preventive treatment with effective antimalarials and the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets need to become implemented on a large scale.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-4-18
PMCID: PMC516443  PMID: 15333138

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