By: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliver
The Eastern African country of Tanzania borders the Indian Ocean and sits between Kenya and Mozambique. Much of the population lives in rural areas and the maternal mortality ratio in 2008 was 790 deaths per 100,000 live births. Although contraceptive prevalence in Tanzania has increased over the last few decades, unmet need remains high, and one result of high unmet need is the problem of unsafe abortion, which contributes significantly to maternal deaths. A project that has been working to improve maternal health in Tanzania is doing so by advancing and supporting the availability, quality, and use of facility based reproductive health and family planning services. The ACQUIRE Project – Access, Quality, and Use in Reproductive Health – was a five year global project funded by USAID beginning in 2003. While global work ended in 2008, work continues in several countries around the world, including Tanzania, through USAID Associate Awards.
EngenderHealth leads the ACQUIRE Tanzania Project (ATP) through a five-year (2007-2012) Associate Award, partnering with Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other groups to reach over 4,700 health facilities throughout the mainland and Zanzibar to make lasting improvements in reproductive health care. The ATP works in family planning, reproductive health, postabortion care, and HIV services for pregnant women, by implementing a model that synchronizes supply, demand, and advocacy needs.
The ATP focuses on expanding contraceptive options, increasing access to postabortion care services, engaging men as partners, and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The project’s achievements to date are laudable. They include training 14,676 health care professionals to provide long-term and permanent methods of contraception (LA/PMs), comprehensive postabortion care, and PMTCT services, distributing LA/PMs to 202,345 clients, and reaching 6,200 clients for postabortion care through expanded service availability. Over 82,000 women received PMTCT services, and 90% of women who received prenatal care also received voluntary HIV testing. Twenty-nine health facilities have been renovated, building waiting areas, rooms for postabortion care, minilaparotomy theaters, family planning rooms, labor wards, and postnatal wards.
The ATP has experienced much success in revitalizing and integrating family planning services, enhancing quality of care, and scaling up proven approaches. The project has built on the successes of previous reproductive health/family planning efforts in Tanzania to bring about even greater improvements in the health of the population.