The More and Better Midwives for Rural Tanzania (MBM-RTz) project officially launched at Bukumbi College, Mwanza, in Fall 2017. Currently in Tanzania there are not enough healthcare workers to meet the needs of the population. Like in Canada, recruiting healthcare workers to rural areas is particularly challenging. The aim of the five-year MBM-RTz project is to increase the number and skill-level of rural midwives and the number of births attended by a skilled practitioner and to decrease the maternal and infant mortality rates in rural Tanzania. The project focuses on the Lake and Western Zones of Tanzania, a remote area in the northeast of the country near Lake Victoria.
“Less than 50% of births in [Tanzania] take place in healthcare facilities, or with any medically trained attendant.”
Many women in rural areas face challenges accessing reproductive healthcare in Tanzania. Less than 50% of births in these areas take place in healthcare facilities, or with any medically trained attendant. The MBM-RTz project encourages secondary school students from Lake and Western Zones to consider midwifery as a career option, provides scholarships for students from those areas to attend midwifery school, provides physical upgrades to the health centres where the students will do their practicums, and provides stronger supervision and mentorship to students and newly deployed midwives. It also provides training to improve the skills of practicing midwives in the area.
The project is funded by Global Affairs Canada, and is a partnership led by the American healthcare NGO Jhpiego, with CAM and Amref Health Africa as implementing partners. Jhpiego has a long history of working in the healthcare field in eastern Africa, and has numerous offices and deep relationships in Tanzania. The partnership with Jhpiego provides an exciting opportunity to share resources and learning.
Although it is CAM’s first partnership with Jhpiego, this is our third ongoing project with the Tanzania Midwives Association (TAMA). We have been working on skill-sharing and association strengthening through our twinning relationship with TAMA since 2011, and both organizations have benefited from this rich relationship. CAM and TAMA are working on the following activities for the project: training midwives in Respectful Maternity Care, training midwives in mentorship and providing these trainees with the resources necessary to carry out mentorship activities, and developing materials to promote midwifery to secondary school students. MBM-RTz started in 2016 and runs until 2021.
The Project launch was an opportunity for CAM and Jhpiego staff to meet in person for the first time. It was a festive occasion featuring speeches, songs and dances, including a memorable dance routine that concluded with a performer pretending to give birth. The resultant “baby” (an anatomical model for practicing resuscitation) was presented to great applause to Dr. Faustin Ndugulile, the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Welfare.