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Mother with child walking on a road

Tanzania in the past few years has experienced a substantial reduction in child mortality rates1. In 2005, the infant mortality rate was 68 deaths per 1000, a vast improvement from the 1999 figure of 99 deaths per 1000. The under five mortality rate also decreased from 147 deaths per thousand in 1999 to 112 deaths per 1000 in 2005. This decrease can be in part attributed to improved breastfeeding practices, IMCI and high immunization coverage. However, one in nine children still die before their fifth birthday. Malaria, acute respiratory disease and diarrhoea persist as the most common childhood illnesses. .

Maternal mortality, on the other hand, has not benefited from trends similar to those of child mortality. Maternal deaths in Tanzania, with a ratio of 578 per 100 000, represent 18 percent of all deaths of women age 15-49. The main direct causes of maternal death are haemorrhages, infections, unsafe abortions, hypertensive disorders and obstructed labours. The presence of these causes is exacerbated by HIV and malaria, Tanzania's number one killer. The fact that more than half of births in Tanzania occur at home also contributes to the elevated maternal mortality rate. Of all pregnant women, only 46 percent are assisted during childbirth by a doctor, clinical officer, nurse, midwife or maternal and child health aide.

Though, the rate of assisted birth is low, 94 percent of women receive antenatal care (ANC) from a health professional at least once. However, the number of women who seek ANC at least four times has decreased from 71% in 1999 to 62% in 2005. This indicates a need for increased effort in regards to maternal health. Also notable, though a large majority of women receive ANC, less than half of them are informed about the signs of pregnancy complication.

1The source for all Tanzania statistics: Tanzania Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Statistics table

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