Mother’s Day a Happy Occasion for Women across Tanzania

Photo credit: Charles Wanga

Mothers and expectant women across Tanzania have a reason to celebrate this Mother’s Day. Their pregnancies are healthier and they are more prepared for birth in recent months.

The reason? The Wazazi Nipendeni campaign.

Wazazi Nipendeni (“Love me, parents”) is an ongoing national campaign that empowers pregnant women and their partners to take the steps necessary for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. Safe motherhood campaigns are not new in Tanzania, but Wazazi Nipendeni is unique because it integrates all safe motherhood areas under one platform and emphasizes key behaviors that are proven to promote maternal and newborn health. These include early and complete antenatal care (ANC) attendance, couple HIV testing and the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, malaria prevention and the creation of an individual birth plan that includes delivery in a health facility with a skilled provider.

The campaign uses a variety of channels to transmit its messages: from traditional approaches like radio and TV spots, clinic posters and billboards, to a special SMS platform that sends information and healthy pregnancy reminders to pregnant women and birth supporters free of charge on all mobile networks.

A recent evaluation of Wazazi Nipendeni surveyed women across Tanzania. The evaluation found that over one-third of women had been exposed to the campaign, most frequently through the multiple radio spots. Not only were these women aware of the campaign’s messages, evaluators found that women who had been exposed to Wazazi Nipendeni messages were more likely to have received ANC, undergone HIV testing, know how to prevent malaria during pregnancy and delivered at a health facility.

One of the nurses at a facility that is implementing Wazazi Nipendeni underscored the campaign’s multiple channels as a reason for its success. “Mothers have learnt about the preparations they need to do before delivery,” she expained. “Some ignore it but when it is more emphasized in the radio is when they believe that what they were told to do is real…”

The utilization of new media channels – like SMS messaging – is another reason for widespread approval of the campaign. In the words of a husband of a pregnant woman, expecting their first child, “Many services cost money, but this one is free to use. I registered as a man because we needed the information, this was our first pregnancy. I received about 3 or 4 messages per week with a lot of advice. It is easy to do something wrong, but these messages tell you how to do it right.”

Buoyed by its success, officials from the partnership behind Wazazi Nipendeni, which includes the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, National Malaria Control Program, National AIDS Control Program, Health Promotion and Education Section (HPES) , mHealth Tanzania Public Private Partnership, CDC Foundation, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (JHU∙CCP), Jhpiego, and other TCCP partners, and USAID, PEPFAR and PMI which are funding the campaign, are in the final stages of the second phase of Wazazi Nipendeni which will focus on the first year of life of the baby.

Healthier mothers and families means that Mother’s Day, and every day, is happier in Tanzania.

Learn more about Wazazi Nipendeni.

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