- More should be done to curb maternal deaths, which have continued to rise in Tanzania in the past decade despite efforts to reverse the trend, activists and officials have said.
"It is a saddening reality, but still maternal deaths can be avoided," Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Tanzania's former president, told a rally on Friday to commemorate women and girls who died due to childbirth and pregnancy complications.
Citing Ministry of Health statistics, Mwinyi said maternal deaths increased from 529 out of every 100,000 birth in 1996 to 578 out of every 100,000 in 2005.
"Such a level is very high and not acceptable," he said.
The rally, which was preceded by a march through several streets of the country's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, was organised by the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in Tanzania.
Mwinyi said maternal deaths could be avoided if qualified and skilled health workers were recruited to be deployed in clinics, especially in rural areas.
He said there had been several government initiatives in past two decades, including the provision of free services to expectant women, the provision of insecticide treated mosquito bed nets and counselling.
However, he said studies had shown that only 45 percent of women attending pre-natal clinics were seen by qualified personnel.
The studies also blamed malnutrition, malaria and HIV/AIDS as being among the underlying causes of deaths during pregnancy and childbirth.
An official of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in Tanzania, Gaudiosa Tibaijuka, said it government should not be left alone to fight maternal deaths.
"The society must also feel responsible in saving women's lives," she said.
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