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1.  Maternal mortality at muhimbili national hospital in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in the year 2011 
Background
Improving maternal health is one of the eight millennium development goals adopted at the millennium summit in the year 2000. Within this frame work, the international community is committed to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by 75% between 1990 and 2015. The objective of this study was to determine the maternal mortality ratio, classify causes of maternal deaths and assess substandard care factors at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.
Methods
A retrospective review of all maternal death records of cases that occurred from 1st January to 31st December 2011 was done.
Results
There were 10,057 live births, 155 maternal deaths and hence MMR of 1,541 per 100,000 live births. Direct causes of maternal deaths were classified in 69.5% of the maternal deaths. Of the direct causes, preeclampsia/eclampsia was the major cause (19.9% of all deaths), followed by post partum haemorrhage (14.9%), abortion complications (9.9%) and sepsis (9.2%). Among the indirect causes anaemia was the leading cause (11.3%) of all deaths, followed by HIV/AIDS (9.9%). Substandard care factors contributing to deaths were identified in 116 (82.3%) of all cases. Among these 28 had patient factors only, 71 medical service factors while 17 had both patient and medical service substandard care factors. The common factors from the woman’s side included delay in seeking care (73.3%) and complete lack of antenatal care (11.1%). Of the medical service factors, inadequate (26.1%) or no blood for transfusion (19.3%), delay in receiving treatment (18.3%) and mismanagement (17%) were the common factors.
Conclusion
There is a high maternal mortality ratio at MNH. Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, post partum haemorrhage and anaemia are the leading causes of maternal deaths in this institution. Multiple substandard care factors identified both at individual and health care service levels that contributed to maternal deaths. There is a need for increasing efforts in the fight to reduce maternal deaths at the institution. A more pro-active role from the referring facilities in the region is needed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-320
PMCID: PMC4174678  PMID: 25217326
2.  Rural Tanzanian women's awareness of danger signs of obstetric complications 
Background
Awareness of the danger signs of obstetric complications is the essential first step in accepting appropriate and timely referral to obstetric and newborn care. The objectives of this study were to assess women's awareness of danger signs of obstetric complications and to identify associated factors in a rural district in Tanzania.
Methods
A total of 1118 women who had been pregnant in the past two years were interviewed. A list of medically recognized potentially life threatening obstetric signs was obtained from the responses given. Chi- square test was used to determine associations between categorical variables and multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with awareness of obstetric danger signs.
Results
More than 98% of the women attended antenatal care at least once. Half of the women knew at least one obstetric danger sign. The percentage of women who knew at least one danger sign during pregnancy was 26%, during delivery 23% and after delivery 40%. Few women knew three or more danger signs. According to multivariate logistic regression analysis having secondary education or more increased the likelihood of awareness of obstetric danger signs six-fold (OR = 5.8; 95% CI: 1.8–19) in comparison with no education at all. The likelihood to have more awareness increased significantly by increasing age of the mother, number of deliveries, number of antenatal visits, whether the delivery took place at a health institution and whether the mother was informed of having a risks/complications during antenatal care.
Conclusion
Women had low awareness of danger signs of obstetric complications. We recommend the following in order to increase awareness of danger signs of obstetrical complications: to improve quality of counseling and involving other family members in antenatal and postnatal care, to use radio messages and educational sessions targeting the whole community and to intensify provision of formal education as emphasized in the second millennium development goal.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-12
PMCID: PMC2667432  PMID: 19323836
3.  Informal support to first-parents after childbirth: a qualitative study in low-income suburbs of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 
Background
In Tanzania, and many sub-Saharan African countries, postpartum health programs have received less attention compared to other maternity care programs and therefore new parents rely on informal support. Knowledge on how informal support is understood by its stakeholders to be able to improve the health in families after childbirth is required. This study aimed to explore discourses on health related informal support to first-time parents after childbirth in low-income suburbs of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Methods
Thirteen focus group discussions with first-time parents and female and male informal supporters were analysed by discourse analysis.
Results
The dominant discourse was that after childbirth a first time mother needed and should be provided with support for care of the infant, herself and the household work by the maternal or paternal mother or other close and extended family members. In their absence, neighbours and friends were described as reconstructing informal support. Informal support was provided conditionally, where poor socio-economic status and non-adherence to social norms risked poor support. Support to new fathers was constructed as less prominent, provided mainly by older men and focused on economy and sexual matters. The discourse conveyed stereotypic gender roles with women described as family caretakers and men as final decision-makers and financial providers. The informal supporters regulated the first-time parents' contacts with other sources of support.
Conclusions
Strong and authoritative informal support networks appear to persist. However, poverty and non-adherence to social norms was understood as resulting in less support. Family health in this context would be improved by capitalising on existing informal support networks while discouraging norms promoting harmful practices and attending to the poorest. Upholding stereotypic notions of femininity and masculinity implies great burden of care for the women and delimited male involvement. Men's involvement in reproductive and child health programmes has the potential for improving family health after childbirth. The discourses conveyed contradicting messages that may be a source of worry and confusion for the new parents. Recognition, respect and raising awareness for different social actors' competencies and limitations can potentially create a health-promoting environment among families after childbirth.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-98
PMCID: PMC3252242  PMID: 22126899
4.  Quality of antenatal care in rural Tanzania: counselling on pregnancy danger signs 
Background
The high rate of antenatal care attendance in sub-Saharan Africa, should facilitate provision of information on signs of potential pregnancy complications. The aim of this study was to assess quality of antenatal care with respect to providers' counselling of pregnancy danger signs in Rufiji district, Tanzania.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted in 18 primary health facilities. Thirty two providers were observed providing antenatal care to 438 pregnant women. Information on counselling on pregnancy danger signs was collected by an observer. Exit interviews were conducted to 435 women.
Results
One hundred and eighty five (42%) clients were not informed of any pregnancy danger signs. The most common pregnancy danger sign informed on was vaginal bleeding 50% followed by severe headache/blurred vision 45%. Nurse auxiliaries were three times more likely to inform a client of a danger sign than registered/enrolled nurses (OR = 3.7; 95% CI: 2.1-6.5) and Maternal Child Health Aides (OR = 2.3: 95% CI: 1.3-4.3) and public health nurses (OR = 2.5; CI: 1.4-4.2) were two times more likely to provide information on danger signs than registered/enrolled nurses. The clients recalled less than half of the pregnancy danger signs they had been informed during the interaction.
Conclusion
Two out of five clients were not counselled on pregnancy danger signs. The higher trained cadre, registered/enrolled nurses were not informing majority of clients pregnancy danger signs compared to the lower cadres. Supportive supervision should be made to enhance counselling of pregnancy danger signs. Nurse auxiliaries should be encouraged and given chance for further training and upgrading to improve their performance and increase human resource for health.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-35
PMCID: PMC2907301  PMID: 20594341
5.  Factors for change in maternal and perinatal audit systems in Dar es Salaam hospitals, Tanzania 
Background
Effective maternal and perinatal audits are associated with improved quality of care and reduction of severe adverse outcome. Although audits at the level of care were formally introduced in Tanzania around 25 years ago, little information is available about their existence, performance, and practical barriers to their implementation. This study assessed the structure, process and impacts of maternal and perinatal death audit systems in clinical practice and presents a detailed account on how they could be improved.
Methods
A cross sectional descriptive study was conducted in eight major hospitals in Dar es Salaam in January 2009. An in-depth interview guide was used for 29 health managers and members of the audit committees to investigate the existence, structure, process and outcome of such audits in clinical practice. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to interview 30 health care providers in the maternity wards to assess their awareness, attitude and practice towards audit systems. The 2007 institutional pregnancy outcome records were reviewed.
Results
Overall hospital based maternal mortality ratio was 218/100,000 live births (range: 0 - 385) and perinatal mortality rate was 44/1000 births (range: 17 - 147). Maternal and perinatal audit systems existed only in 4 and 3 hospitals respectively, and key decision makers did not take part in audit committees. Sixty percent of care providers were not aware of even a single action which had ever been implemented in their hospitals because of audit recommendations. There were neither records of the key decision points, action plan, nor regular analysis of the audit reports in any of the facilities where such audit systems existed.
Conclusions
Maternal and perinatal audit systems in these institutions are poorly established in structure and process; and are less effective to improve the quality of care. Fundamental changes are urgently needed for successful audit systems in these institutions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-29
PMCID: PMC2896922  PMID: 20525282
6.  Treatment of retained placenta with misoprostol: a randomised controlled trial in a low-resource setting (Tanzania) 
Background
Retained placenta is one of the common causes of maternal mortality in developing countries where access to appropriate obstetrical care is limited. Current treatment of retained placenta is manual removal of the placenta under anaesthesia, which can only take place in larger health care facilities. Medical treatment of retained placenta with prostaglandins E1 (misoprostol) could be cost-effective and easy-to-use and could be a life-saving option in many low-resource settings. The aim of this study is to assess the efficacy and safety of sublingually administered misoprostol in women with retained placenta in a low resource setting.
Methods
Design: Multicentered randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, to be conducted in 5 hospitals in Tanzania, Africa.
Inclusion criteria: Women with retained placenta, at a gestational age of 28 weeks or more and blood loss less than 750 ml, 30 minutes after delivery of the newborn despite active management of third stage of labour.
Trial Entry & Randomisation & Study Medication: After obtaining informed consent, eligible women will be allocated randomly to the treatment groups using numbered envelopes that will be randomized in variable blocks containing identical capsules with either 800 microgram of misoprostol or placebo. The drugs will be given sublingually. The women, maternal care providers and researchers will be blinded to treatment allocation.
Sample Size: 117 women, to show a 40% reduction in manual removals of the placenta (p = 0.05, 80% power). The randomization will be misoprostol: placebo = 2:1
Primary Study Outcome: Expulsion of the placenta without manual removal. Secondary outcome is the number of blood transfusions.
Discussion
This is a protocol for a randomized trial in a low resource setting to assess if medical treatment of women with retained placenta with misoprostol reduces the incidence of manual removal of the placenta.
Clinical Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN16104753
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-48
PMCID: PMC2770987  PMID: 19852814

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