Welcome to Maternity Africa

Making childbirth safe

Changing lives

Too many women die in child birth every day.  Find out how you can join Maternity Africa in making childbirth safe.

Make an impact

Maternity Africa’s vision is to make childbirth safe for every woman.  Would you like to help?

About Maternity Africa

Maternity Africa is a Christian-based not-for-profit organization that endeavours to provide fistula treatment and quality maternity care for all marginalized women throughout Africa, through clinical excellence and in the example of displaying love, kindness and compassion regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.

Maternity Africa's annual service delivery targets are:

 

Up to 2,500 deliveries

Up to 10,000 antenatal visits

Up to 150 fistula and other birth-induced injury surgeries

Up to 1,200 family planning consultations (for external clients)

Practical skills development for up to 60 external birth attendants

Problems facing pregnant women in developing countries

In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 200,000 women die each year during pregnancy and childbirth.  This is because they do not have access to safe maternal health care.  Death is not the only risk that women face.  Many are left with permanent injuries, all because they wanted to have a family.

Maternity Africa believes that women should be able to access good quality maternal health care before, during and after childbirth.

Where do maternal deaths occur?

The high number of maternal deaths in some countries reflects unequal access to health services.  It also highlights the gap between rich and poor.  Almost all maternal deaths (99%) occur in Low Income Countries.  Most of the deaths (83%) occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in developing countries in 2015 averaged 239 deaths per 100,000 live births.  This compares to an MMR  of 12 in developed countries.  There are also large disparities: between countries, between women with high or low income, and between women living in rural or urban areas.

In Tanzania, where Maternity Africa is based, the MMR in 2018 was 556 deaths per 100,000 live births.

The risk of maternal mortality is highest for girls under 15 years. Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of death among adolescent girls in developing countries (2), (3).

Women in developing countries have, on average, many more pregnancies than women in developed countries. Therefore, their lifetime risk of death due to pregnancy is higher. The probability that a 15 year old woman, will eventually die from a maternal cause is 1 in 4,900 in developed countries compared to 1 in 180 in developing countries. In countries designated as fragile states, the risk is 1 in 54, showing the consequences of breakdowns in health systems.

You can read more about maternal mortality here.

 

Why do women die during pregnancy and childbirth?

Women die as a result of complications during and following pregnancy and childbirth.  Most of these complications develop during pregnancy and most are preventable or treatable.  Other complications may exist before pregnancy but are worsened during pregnancy, especially if not managed as part of the woman’s care.  The complications that account for nearly 75% of all maternal deaths are):

  • severe bleeding (especially after childbirth);

  • infections (usually after childbirth);

  • high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia);

  • complications from delivery; and

  • unsafe abortion.

The remainder are caused by or associated with diseases such as malaria, and AIDS during pregnancy.

You can read more about why women die in pregnancy and childbirth here.

 

Why do women not get the care they need?

Poor women in remote areas are the least likely to receive adequate health care.  This is especially true for regions with low numbers of skilled health workers, such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  In 2015, 89% of births in the richest 20 per cent of households were attended by skilled health professionals.  In the poorest 20 per cent of households only 43% were attended.  This means that millions of births are not assisted by a midwife, a doctor or a trained nurse.

In high-income countries, almost all women have at least four antenatal care visits.  In addition, they are attended by a skilled health worker during childbirth, and receive postpartum care.  In 2015, only 40% of all pregnant women in low-income countries had the recommended antenatal care visits.

Reasons why it is challenging to access good, evidence-based maternal health care include because women are often:

  • Relatively far from other maternal healthcare providers;
  • Located in rural communities or areas of high urban deprivation where transport infrastructure is poor, expensive and logistically challenging (comprising travelling on foot, by pillion motorcycle rides, using several public minibus journeys or expensive taxis);
  • Otherwise served only by poor quality, unprofessional maternal healthcare;
  • Economically impoverished;
  • Have large families (some already with up to eight or more children), who require their time and attention;
  • Affected by other social constraints, such as fear of stigma and low standards of education;
  • Live in areas that are subject to poor healthcare governance and accountability mechanisms; and / or
  • Potentially otherwise at higher risk of maternal death, or major birth-acquired injury such as obstetric fistula.

Through its base at Kivulini Maternity Centre, Maternity Africa is located specifically to serve such vulnerable and marginalized women.

 

How can women’s lives be saved?

Most maternal deaths are preventable.  The maternal health care solutions to prevent or manage complications are quite straightforward.

All women need access to professional antenatal care in pregnancy, skilled care during childbirth, and care and support in the weeks after childbirth.

Maternal health and newborn health are closely linked.  Globally, an estimated 2.7 million babies die in the neonatal period annually, and of these, about 0.7 million die from intrapartum-related events. In Tanzania, where Maternity Africa is located, estimates suggest that 51,000 newborn deaths and 43,000 stillbirths occur every year.  Approximately two-thirds of these deaths could be potentially prevented with improvements in intrapartum and neonatal care.  Routine measurement of fetal intrapartum deaths and newborn deaths that occur in health facilities can help to evaluate efforts to improve the quality of intrapartum care to save lives.  You can read more about perinatal deaths in Tanzania here.

It is therefore particularly important that all births are attended by skilled health professionals.  This is because timely management and treatment can make the difference between life and death for both mother and baby.

Severe bleeding after birth can kill a healthy woman within hours if she is not attended by a professional health worker. Medication given immediately after childbirth effectively reduces the risk of bleeding.

Infection can be eliminated if good hygiene is practiced and if early signs of infection are recognized and treated.

Pre-eclampsia can be detected and managed with medication before the onset of eclampsia (convulsions and other life-threatening complications).

To avoid maternal deaths, all women, including adolescents, need education and access to family planning and prenatal, childbirth and postnatal care from professional healthcare workers.  Maternity Africa provides such care.

Sustainable development goals for maternal health

Sustainable Development Goal 3 aims, by 2030 to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.  It also aims to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.  You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 3 here.

Sustainable Development Goal 5 aims to  ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.  You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 5 here.

Through its work, Maternity Africa seeks to contribute to the achievement of these goals.

%

The percentage of women in Tanzania who give birth at home without the assistance of a trained health professional (Tanzania DHS 2016).

The average number of women globally who die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. 99% of these deaths occur developing countries (World Health Organization 2014, 2019).

MILLION. The number of women of reproductive age in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy are not using a modern contraceptive method. The number of maternal deaths would be reduced significantly through family planning and quality maternal and child health care (World Health Organization 2018).

For every woman who dies, 20 or 30 encounter injuries, infections or disabilities. Most of these deaths and injuries are entirely preventable. Obstetric fistula is one of the most devastating injuries (United Nations Population Fund, 2016).

What Maternity Africa does

Maternity Africa provides antenatal care, intrapartum care, postnatal care and family planning services to these ladies.  In addition, it offers surgery for obstetric fistula and other birth-induced injuries.

Maternity Africa’s vision is to make childbirth safe for every woman.  To do this, it serves vulnerable and marginalised women, free of charge so that none are excluded. 

Maternity Africa was registered in Tanzania in 2013.  It initially provided services in other hospitals in Arusha Region.  However, in June 2018 Maternity Africa opened the brand new 48-bed facility, Kivulini Maternity Centre, near Arusha city. 

Equipped with its own operating theatre at Kivulini Maternity Centre and staffed by qualified, experienced and competent skilled birth attendants, Maternity Africa also offers 24-hour Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEmONC).

Maternity Africa holds four fistula “camps” each year.  A camp is a period of intense activity, commencing with outreach and screening trips to rural areas to identify potential patients through to transporting them to Kivulini Maternity Centre for treatment and surgery.  Specialist international surgeons travel to Tanzania to conduct the surgeries, and local doctors are also trained.  Following surgery, the ladies recuperate at Kivulini Maternity Centre, often for several weeks before returning home.

Maternity Africa is a rapidly growing organisation, and works with the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Arusha District Council and other, Non-Government Organisations to achieve its goals, saving and changing the lives of many women.

Obstetric fistula surgery

Transforming

Family planning

Educating and equipping

Antenatal care

Assessing and addressing

Labour and delivery

Celebrating life

News

Surprised by Joy

Surprised by Joy

My name is Joy. I am 18 years old, married at 16 and got pregnant at 17. I went into labour and lasted for four days without any kind of help. There is no health centre in our remote village so my mother called for a local midwife to come. She said there was no way to...

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Pudol

Pudol

After leaving Maternity Africa, Dr. Andrew went to South Sudan and operated on 30 women with birth related injuries including obstetric fistula. One of the ladies was Pudol. She is from the north and delivered her 6th child two years ago after a three day labour. He...

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MAMA ZELLY

MAMA ZELLY

Zelly is the head of our labour ward here at Kivulini and is affectionately known by many as Mama. She has been a nurse and midwife for 32 years and has been with us at Kivulini since we opened in June 2018. Before that, she worked with Maternity Africa for a number...

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PO Box 16464

Arusha, Tanzania

info@maternityafrica.org

+255 716 913 934

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