Tanzanian First Lady launches Stand Up for African Mothers Campaign

Tanzanian First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete has added her support to the nomination of Ugandan midwife Esther Madudu for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. Esther is a representative of African midwives in the global Stand Up For African Mothers campaign being run by the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF).

Mama Kikwete signed an online petition to support the nomination when she launched the Stand Up for African Mothers Campaign on May 15 at Mnazi Mmoja grounds in Dar es Salaam. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the plight of African women during pregnancy and childbirth and to raise funds for midwifery training in African countries, including Tanzania.

While acknowledging the severe shortage of midwives in the country, and especially in the rural areas, the First Lady underlined the importance of midwifery training as one of the strategies to reduce maternal deaths. She congratulated AMREF for launching the innovative campaign, which will also be rolled out to the regions.

 “Just like AMREF, I believe that no woman should die when giving life. I therefore call upon all stakeholders such as local government, development partners and civil society to invest in midwifery training so that we can reduce maternal deaths by at least 50 per cent,” she said.

Mama Kikwete signs the Stand Up for African Mothers petition on the campaign website www.standupforafricanmothers.com

Mama Kikwete said that lack of midwives denies women opportunities to get quality reproductive health services and in many instances endangers their health. “It is very important to ensure that midwifery is a valued profession. In schools, students should be encouraged to take sciences and ultimately midwifery so that they can save the lives of pregnant women and children.

She said that through her organisation, Wanawake na Maendeleo (WAMA), she fully supports the campaign and asked other organisations, companies, parastatals and individuals to join in the effort to reduce maternal death.

She noted that according to 2002 census figures, Tanzanians were 38 million while the current population is an estimated 45 million. “If just half of us would contribute Tsh1,000 we will get about 20 billion, which can train  5,000 midwives.

AMREF Tanzania Country Director Dr Festus Ilako said that through the campaign, AMREF plans to train 4,222 midwives in the country. “But it is important to note that we will reach this target only if we will raise enough money to do so,” he added. The average cost of training one midwife is Euro 2,000.

Dr Ilako said that the campaign adds value to the work that AMREF has been doing for African mothers since its establishment.  He cited AMREF’s work in improving access to and use of reproductive health services, training of midwives, encouraging pregnant women to take preventive measures against malaria and raising awareness about HIV prevention.

AMREF has also been providing hygiene education, improving access to clean water and sanitation, promoting reproductive rights, helping women to make informed choices about family planning, raising awareness about violence against women and helping women to access the services they need, he added.