Note from the Field: Tanzanian First Lady Opens Foundation-Supported Maternity Ward
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
May 11, 2011
Last month, the opening of a new maternity ward in the Mtwara region of Tanzania
received national attention when the Tanzanian First Lady arrived in person to lend her support.
Madam Salma Kikwete joined the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) as the guest of honor at the Foundation-supported facility in the Nanyumbu District.
Tanzanian First Lady Madam Salma Kikwete speaks with a
mother at the newly opened maternity ward at the
Mangaka Health Centre (Photo: EGPAF/Mercy Nyanda)
The opening ceremony was held in April at the Mangaka Health Centre, and was attended by more than 300 guests from partner organizations and the surrounding community.
First Lady Kikwete has long been a strong advocate in the fight against HIV, and our mission to eliminate pediatric AIDS.
Speaking at the ceremony, she said that she was impressed by the good work that the Foundation and its partners are doing to support children, women, and families with HIV in Tanzania.
The First Lady also called for increased male involvement in reproductive and child health (RCH) issues, requesting that men support their wives during pregnancy and stay involved in the health and care of their children.
“Every father should be proud to escort his wife to a RCH clinic to ensure that she has the services she needs to deliver a healthy child,” Madam Kikwete said.
The District Commissioner for Nanyumbu District, the Honorable Fatma Said, was also present for the event. She urged women to deliver at the new maternity ward to ensure the health of their children and decrease risks associated with at-home deliveries.
During the ceremony, beneficiaries of the Foundation’s services spoke about living with HIV, and the support that maternity wards like the one at Mangaka can provide.
One HIV-positive couple explained how the Foundation and the health center supported them in their efforts to start a family. After receiving services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), the couple had an HIV-free baby girl.
Another young mother testified about how the new maternity facility saved her life following the birth of her baby. The mother developed post-delivery complications, but because she had delivered at the new ward, health care workers were able to provide emergency obstetric care services.
The new maternity ward was constructed by the Foundation in Tanzania with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
Dr. Jeroen Van’t Pad Bosch, the Foundation’s country director for Tanzania, said that he expects maternal and neonatal deaths related to child birth to decline in the community, if pregnant women use the facility and the Foundation’s services to deliver their children.
We’ll see more success stories in the Nanyumbu District, like the HIV-positive couple who were able to start a family, confident that they could protect their new baby from HIV. They told us that they had chosen the name Hope for their young daughter.
That’s exactly what this maternity ward will provide – hope for a healthy future for moms and babies, and hope for a generation free of HIV in Tanzania.
Mercy Nyanda is the Foundation’s Program Coordinator for Communication and Outreach in Tanzania.