Facts About Bloomberg Philanthropies Maternal Health Initiative
According to the United Nations, almost 300,000 women die globally from pregnancy and childbirth every year. For every woman that dies, another 20 suffer an injury, illness or disability, often with life-long consequences.
99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries with over half of these in Sub-Saharan Africa. Tanzania has the fifth highest number of maternal deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Access to comprehensive emergency obstetric services can prevent most maternal deaths, yet women continue to die because there are few facilities with skilled personnel and the distances are long. The crux of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Maternal Health Program is the decentralization of life-saving health care services to the level of the village, where it is needed the most. The approach has two components:
1) Upgrading Infrastructure
Almost every community in Tanzania has access to a health care center that can provide basic health care services. The Bloomberg Maternal Health Program has upgraded these health centers by constructing operating rooms and other critical infrastructure needed for comprehensive emergency obstetric care.
2) Training healthcare workers
Most remote communities of Tanzania do not have a medical doctor, and obstetricians are almost non-existent in rural areas. Tanzania was an early adopter of a practical solution known as “task-shifting” which allows non-physician clinicians to provide health care services. Non-physician clinicians are much more likely to work in isolated communities than doctors. Recognizing this, our program trains non-physician clinicians - called Assistant Medical Officers (AMO) - to manage complicated deliveries, including caesarian sections, and nurse midwives to administer anesthesia.