Challenges and Successes of Distributing Birth Kits with Misoprostol to Reduce Maternal Mortality in Rural Tanzania

Gail C. Webber, Bwire M. Chirangi, Nyamusi J. Magatti

Abstract

The Saving Mothers Project was conducted from September 2015 to March 2017 in Bunda and Tarime Districts, Mara Region, Tanzania. The purpose of this project was to train community health workers (CHWs) to use mobile phones applications to register and educate pregnant women about safe deliveries and encourage them to access skilled health care providers for antenatal care and delivery, and to provide nurses and CHWs with clean birth kits with misoprostol to distribute to women. The birth kits were for use in case women could not access the health facility, or if the health facility was lacking supplies at the time of delivery. The overall goal of the study was to reduce the maternal mortality rate by increasing women‘s access to health services where possible, and to clean supplies when a non-facility birth was unavoidable. This paper reports on a mixed methods evaluation of the project including a survey of over two thousand four hundred women, and focus groups with women, community health workers, and nurses participating in the project. The results of the survey and focus groups demonstrate a high degree of satisfaction with the birth kits and misoprostol and an increase in facility birth rates where the project was implemented. Differences between the two districts illustrate that policy maker support is key to successful implementation. (Afr J Reprod Health 2019; 23[3]: 68-78).

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