Zanzibar — PROXIMITY to healthcare facilities is no longer a problem in Zanzibar, the Deputy Minister for Health, Mr Mahmoud Thabit Kombo, has said.
Mr Kombo informed Members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives that the Islands have the best proximity to healthcare facilities compared with any nation in Africa.
"Pregnant mothers in Zanzibar, including in rural areas no longer live far away from healthcare facilities providing maternal services.
The longest distance to maternal care centre is 3.5 kilometres surpassing the five kilometre distance recommended by the WHO," said Mr Kombo.
The deputy minister was responding to the question from Ms Panya Ali Abdalla (Women-CCM) who asked as to why maternal mortality is on rise in Zanzibar. She asked whether poor access to health care, which results in delayed attendance, led to the increase.
Mr Kombo said that each health centre which provides maternal services has at least three trained staffs capable of attending 20 pregnancies, but women who visit health facilities to give birth is normally between three and five.
He said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other development partners recommend Zanzibar's efforts in improving health services, and that the reasons behind the fluctuating maternal mortality include normal pregnancy complications and heavy reliance on Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs).
Statistics collected at the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital shows 77, 62, 103 and 80 maternal deaths in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively.
The deputy minister urged leaders at all levels to encourage mothers to deliver at the official health centres instead of going to the untrained TBAs.
By Issa Yussuf,DN
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