Hundreds of pregnant women and their partners gathered today to receive antenatal care services at the Nyamagana Stadium in Mwanza, Tanzania as the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Hussein Ali Mwinyi officially launched the Wazazi Nipendeni Safe Motherhood campaign.
“Through the Wazazi Nipendeni Safe Motherhood campaign, Tanzania is rolling out the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa in Tanzania (CARMMAT),” explained Dr. Mwinyi. “This campaign encourages pregnant women and their partners to take the steps necessary to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.”
Although maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) has seen improvements in Tanzania over the last few decades, Tanzanian women still face an unacceptably high risk of preventable morbidity and mortality during their reproductive years. Tanzania’s maternal mortality ratio remains high at 454 deaths per 100,000 lives births, as does the neonatal mortality rate at 26 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the infant mortality rate, at 51 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Alisa Cameron, Health Office Director for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) remarked, “Today, we celebrate pregnant women and their desire to do all they can for their unborn child. As the campaign slogan says, ‘Wazazi Nipendeni, Love me Parents, the protection you give me is my only hope!’”
Wazazi Nipendeni aims to operationalize CARMMAT by empowering pregnant women and their partners to take the steps necessary for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. The campaign integrates all safe motherhood health areas, including early and complete ANC attendance, malaria prevention, the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), individual birth planning and safe delivery. It will use television, radio, billboards and print materials that include an individual birth plan that pregnant women and their partners can use to prepare for their delivery.
In his remarks, Mwanza Regional Commissioner Eng. Evarist Ndikilo said, “Today pregnant women from all over the Lake Zone are in this stadium, getting the services they need to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery through the Wazazi Nipendeni campaign. Women all over Tanzania will be empowered to tell a loved one when they are pregnant and get to the necessary services early on in their pregnancy.”
A unique SMS component is an integral part of the Wazazi Nipendeni campaign. Pregnant women, mothers with babies up to 16 weeks and their supporters can send the word “mtoto” to the number 15001 free of charge. After registering, users receive a range of free messages covering all aspects of safe pregnancy and early child care. All messages have been approved by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and match the specific month or week of pregnancy or age of the baby. The service offers the registrants time sensitive reminders for ANC visits, SP doses for prevention of malaria in pregnancy, as well as information on testing for HIV, nutrition, individual birth planning and much more.
Wazazi Nipendeni is a partnership led by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Reproductive and Child Health Section in coordination with the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), the National AIDS Control Program (NACP), the Health Promotion and Education Section, and the mHealth Tanzania Public Private Partnership. The campaign is funded by the United States Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Wazazi Nipendeni campaign was developed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (JHU∙CCP) while the SMS component was developed by the CDC Foundation’s mHealth Tanzania Public Private Partnership. Other implementing partners include Jhpiego, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Mwanzo Bora Program, CCBRT, Tunajali project, PLAN International, Aga Khan Foundation and various other projects.