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Practitioners acquire skills in enhancing stakeholders’ awareness and accountability for improved maternal and new-born health

Picture 2Over 60 journalism practitioners, drawn from all over United Republic of Tanzania, have attended training in Dar es Salaam in which they learned skills that they need in properly updating the public about Maternal and New-born Health (MNH).

The two-day educational gathering, jointly organized by Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC) and Evidence for Action (E4A), was conducted at Lion hotel effective 15th April, 2014, for the first time in Tanzania media industry’s recent history, in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two parties two months earlier.

Under MoU signed in Mwanza, not only did the aforesaid parties agree to work more closely in enhancing information on increased accountability for maternal and new-born survival in Tanzania, but also to liaise on regularly with each other to ensure smooth implementation of the renewable partnership.

The enthusiastic participants, including Chairpersons of all 23 Press Clubs, were first of all, introduced to 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS) just to give them fascinating insights into population and health situation in Tanzania.

To that effect, in his thorough presentation of the document, which lasted nearly the training’s two solid days, a specialist in treatment of medical condition and diseases of women, Dr Moke Magoma, hinted that the 2010 TDHS is the fifth national Demographic and Health survey to be conducted in the country, that of the 1991-1992 being the first.

He said it was then followed by the Tanzania Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Survey (TKAPS) in 1994, the 1996 TDHS, the 1999 Tanzania Reproductive and Child Health Survey (TRCHS), the 2003-04 Tanzania HIV/AIDS Indicator Survey (THIS), TDHS 2004-2005 and the 2007-08 Tanzania HIV/AIDS and Malaria Indicator Survey (THMIS).

E4A country dir...
E4A country director, Mr. Craig Ferla briefing the journalism practitioners on Mama Ye Campaign during training conducted at Lion Hotel, Dar es Salaam E4A country director, Mr. Craig Ferla briefing the journalism practitioners on Mama Ye Campaign during training conducted at Lion Hotel, Dar es Salaam
Practitioners d...
Practitioners drawn from all 23 Press Clubs in the country participating in a training on Maternal and New-Born Health at Lion Hotel conference hall, in Dar es Salaam. Practitioners drawn from all 23 Press Clubs in the country participating in a training on Maternal and New-Born Health at Lion Hotel conference hall, in Dar es Salaam.

On the 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey,the renowned gynecologist told the participants that it is based purely on a nationally representative sample and that it simply provides just estimates for rural and urban areas on the Mainland, for the Isles (Ungula and Pemba), for each of the seven zones, and, in most cases, for each of the 26 regions.

Graphs and round charts, contained in the 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey, are all pointing at appallingly shocking mothers and infant mortality rate statistics, as Tanzania had just celebrated 49th anniversary of her political independence in 2010, giving the participants a real disastrous situation on the ground in the process. 

Among catchy words which had given the practitioners enormous food for thought while in the conference hall include an overview of trends in fertility, trends in use of modern methods of contraception, trends in maternal health care, trends in childhood mortality (death per 1,000 births), trends in literacy and trends in household electricity.

Later on, presenting her paper, ‘Wajibika Mama Aishi Campaign’, Ms Rose Mlay, a National White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) Coordinator, said although half of women in the country were still giving birth alone or without skilled health care, they do so at their own risk to say the least.

 Citing Rukwa region’s women as a salient example, she singled them out as being among mothers who die en masse at or just after birth in the country due to postpartum hemorrhage, uterine rupture, obstetrics / obstructed labour and eclampsia, among other reasons.

 It is against this background that the National WRA Coordinator pledged with the journalism practitioners to report relentlessly such episodes as they happen in order to lure government’s immediate intervention, considering that President Jakaya Kikwete, a current co- Chairperson of RMNCH Steering Committee, is a dutiful head of state.

 During plenary discussions which ensued on Day Two, involving editors of ten local media outlets, six recommendations were made for an enhanced team work spirit between journalists and editors, including introduction of a special desk in newsrooms and at Press Clubs level that deals with this particular mothers and infant mortality issue.

 Also highly recommended are logistical supports to reporters so they can be able to reach out to rural populations, further improvement of news stories and feature articles focused on maternal and new-born health, routine special courses for editors only, training in specialization journalism and need for media owners be held accountable for their failure to give mothers and infant mortality stories priority they deserve.

Earlier on, UTPC Acting Executive Director, Mr Maleko paid glowing tribute to the participants for coming in big numbers in search for knowledge about the disturbing upwards mothers and infant mortality rate trend, notwithstanding current rains coming down in torrents particularly in Dar es Salaam.

Mr Maleko said the occasion bears a clear testimony not only to the truth that UTPC has improved with age lately, but also the extent to which the developing partners in Tanzania have confidence in it on the one hand.

But on the other, Mr Maleko who is also a Programme Officer responsible for Press Clubs relations and monitoring said UTPC has earned credibility and reputation for itself, with an army of journalism practitioners operating under Press Clubs, scattered all over United Republic of Tanzania which are de jure UTPC members.

Giving an explanation and overview of his organization’s campaign, popularly known as Mama ye, Mr Craig Ferla, a E4ACountry Director, said it is essentially a multi-year programme aimed at improving maternal and new-born survival in Tanzania in particular and sub-Saharan Africa at large.

As a gesture of complementing pledges made by Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete at international arena to save the lives of mothers and babies, Mr Craig elaborated that the said campaign focuses on using a strategic combination of evidence, advocacy and accountability to save lives in the country.

Latest World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, according to the Country Director, suggest that Tanzania alone on average loses 8,500 mothers annually (equivalent to 24 mothers daily) and between 48,000-50,000 under-fives annually (equivalent to 130 babies daily), a phenomenon which he described as a real national disaster.

Speaking in his capacity as UTPC President, Mr Kenneth Simbaya simply echoed remarks made by Mr Maleko and Mr Ferla by urging the journalists not to let this rare opportunity slip through their fingers in the interest of individual Press Clubs, practitioners and Tanzania as a whole.

He described the training as a golden opportunity for the mass communicators in particular given that it aims at equipping them with journalist skills in enhancing stakeholders’ awareness and local accountability for improved maternal and new-born health.

On specialization, Mr Simbaya said much as he commends practitioners for the good job they have always been doing all along, he contended that it is high time local reporters spent more time on one particular area of work, in the course of their duties, other than on others for them to work more effectively and efficiently in relation to mothers and babies who die at or just after birth for various avoidable reasons.  

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