Half of Women Still Give Birth Alone or Without Skilled Health Care in Tanzania But We Can Change That

On International Day of the Midwife on May 5, our short film “What I Want Is Simple”, is airing on national television and radio in Tanzania.
For every 100,000 women who give birth in my country, Tanzania, almost 800 die (compared to 24 in USA ). This is an absolute scandal, as almost all of these deaths could be prevented if women had access to skilled health workers.
Yet there is a dire shortage of health workers with midwifery skills in my country, and half of women still give birth with no one to help them except neighbours or relatives. What’s more, the numbers of nurses trained in midwifery is shrinking with some training schools reporting less than 25 students in classes which used to have 300.
The White Ribbon Alliance in Tanzania (WRATZ) is working hard to reduce maternal mortality and to bring the issue of the shortage of midwives to the forefront of the political agenda. As part of this work, WRATZ is working to promote midwifery as a profession and to improve the status and working conditions of midwives. This includes working to improve the public perception of midwives and the need for improved working conditions. An example of these efforts is this short film.
Recently, with the financial support of the Health Policy Project, WRATZ organized a public hearing on this issue. Those in the audience were asked if they would choose nursing as a career for their children.
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