Maternal and Child Health

Advancing Maternal Health: A multifaceted approach to complex problems

By Samantha Bossalini, Communications and Development Associate, Kupona Foundation

The Challenges We Face:

In Tanzania we lose approximately 22 women1 and 106 newborns2 every day due to childbirth and pregnancy related complications. These deaths are, for the most part, preventable. For every woman that dies, 20 more will develop an injury, infection, or debilitating impairment like obstetric fistula3.

In Dar es Saalam, Tanzania’s largest city and one of the fastest growing cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, booming population growth puts a huge demand on the healthcare system. Unable to withstand the pressure, hospitals are left with severe staff and resource shortages. In some of the busiest maternity wards in the city, up to 5 women in labor can be found in a single bed, and in some cases women have no choice but to give birth on the floor. One-third of maternal deaths are a result of post-partum hemorrhaging, but access to a safe blood supply is severely limited. Equipment is often broken, or unavailable, and there are not enough trained professionals to give each mother and newborn the attention they need.

Understaffed, under-resourced, and overwhelmed, medical teams cannot meet the demand for high quality healthcare, resulting in staggering maternal and newborn mortality rates.

This is a complex issue, without a single, simple solution. In collaboration with our sister organization, CCBRT, and the Government of Tanzania, Kupona mobilizes resources and funds to support a comprehensive program designed to tackle Tanzania’s maternal healthcare crisis from many different angles. Through our collaborative, integrated approach, we are making critical improvements to the quality of care, and are seeing encouraging results.

Watch to learn more about CCBRT’s Maternal and Newborn Healthcare Program


Strengthening What We Have

Frontline healthcare workers in Dar es Salaam’s public health facilities bear the brunt of staff and resource shortages. In 2010, CCBRT began work to build the capacity of 22 public health facilities in the region. By placing highly skilled doctors to train, mentor, and empower medical workers at these facilities, CCBRT has equipped them with the skills and confidence they need to provide high-quality care. Since 2010, CCBRT, in partnership with the Regional Health Management Team, has trained hundreds of frontline healthcare workers in Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC). The team has also conducted critical renovations in 5 facilities, and distributed life-saving equipment and resources.

Since the beginning of the program we have seen a marked decline in maternal mortality and stillbirth rates across the region, and an increase in the quality of care being provided across the 22 sites. In 2014 alone, colleagues at CCBRT supported facilities served over 105,000 mothers with higher quality care during delivery, trained 1,693 frontline healthcare workers, and saw the average quality of care scores4 increase from 9% in 2010 to 78% in 2014.


CCBRT’s Maternity and Newborn Hospital has entered the final stage of construction Photo Credit: Sami B.
CCBRT’s Maternity and Newborn Hospital has entered the final stage of construction
Photo Credit: Sami B. 

Building Something New

Recognizing the need to increase capacity to treat emergency and high-risk cases in the region of Dar es Salaam, CCBRT began construction on a 200-bed facility which, at full capacity, will conduct 15,500 deliveries per year, The facility will be a beacon of best practice, and will provide quality services across the entire spectrum of care, from family planning to treating sick newborns. The CCBRT Maternity and Newborn Hospital is in its final stage of construction, and is scheduled to open its doors to patients in 2017. The hospital will also be home to one of the few dedicated blood banks in Dar es Salaam, providing safe blood to mothers and newborns in need of emergency transfusions.

Join our Collaborative Community

Like any complex problem, we have to approach maternal and newborn mortality from many different angles. Our efforts may feel small at first, but we’ve seen that the impact is exponential. As Kupona and CCBRT advance, innovate, and grow to meet the needs of the population we serve, we’re motivated by stories of lives saved, and healthcare workers feeling empowered for the first time.

If you would like to join our collaborative community of donors, volunteers and advocates, please visit our website to learn more about how you can get involved. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or contact us directly for more information at

  1. Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS) 2010, National Bureau of Statistics, Tanzania, April 2011, Dar es Salaam
  2. In 2013, 39,000 neonatal deaths occurred in Tanzania; the neonatal mortality rate was 21/1,000 live births. UNICEF (2014). Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed
  3. Nanda, Geeta, Kimberly Switlich and Elizabeth Lule, Accelerating progress towards Achieving the MDG to Improve Maternal Health: A Collection of promising Approaches, World Bank, Washington D.C., April 2005, p4.
  4. Measured by Standards-Based Management and Recognition (SBMR) assessments, developed by Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University.
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Category: Maternal and Child Health
Tagged with: #PMNCH    Maternal Health    Newborn Health    Tanzania