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The United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA), Tanzania, is committed in its support to the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to improve maternal and child health outcomes.  In November 2018, H.E. the Vice President, Samia Suluhu,  together with the Ministry of Health, Regional Commissioners of Regions with the highest burden of maternal and newborn mortality,  CSOs and Development Partners, launched the national “Jiongeze Tuwavushe Salama” campaign – translated as “Go the extra mile! Help them sail through safely!” – demonstrating the strong commitment and  investment by government in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) supported by UNFPA and other partners. The national roll out of this campaign across all regions aims to rejuvenate efforts to curb preventable maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity across the country. In May 2019, the campaign was launched in Simiyu Region.

UNFPA is one of the key supporters of the “Jiongeze Tuwavushe Salama” campaign and has made considerable investments in Simiyu Region to improve maternal and child health services. In 2018, through UNFPA’s financial support, 38 health facilities were renovated and equipped to deliver both basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care in Simiyu Region, reducing the long  distances that pregnant women have to walk to access high-quality services.  More women in the region are now delivering at the renovated and equipped health facilities, assisted by skilled staff, following UNFPA-supported training.

Dr Hashina Begum, Deputy Representative, UNFPA, applauded government for its commitment and continued investment to strengthen the delivery of RMNCH services at the primary care level, and affirmed UNFPA’s continued support to scale-up collaboration with government and development partners in Simiyu Region.  She emphasized that the continued mutual investments in RMNCH are sound investments that save lives and have clear economic benefits. “Every mother and child has the right to survive and thrive. Women who survive pregnancy and delivery and thrive - can and do play a critical role in contributing to national and global economies. Healthy children enjoy better cognitive development, achieve more at school and become healthy, productive adults,” she added.

Speaking at the launch in Simiyu, Mr. Anthony Mtaka, Simiyu Regional Commissioner, said that the government has allocated a dedicated budget for each region of the country to ensure that the campaign is successful in saving the lives of pregnant women and their newborn children. He added that TSh7 billion has been donated by central government for the construction of the regional hospital in Simiyu and TSh1.5 billion has been allocated for the construction of district hospitals in Busega, Itilima and Bariadi. He also stressed the importance of pregnant women and their husbands/partners attending antenatal and  postnatal care clinics.

The Jiongeze Tuwavushe Salama campaign intensifies accountability at all levels to achieve sustainable results in the reduction of preventable maternal and newborn deaths in Tanzania.  Collaborative efforts will be essential to ensure that affordable, quality healthcare reaches every mother and newborn, starting with the most vulnerable, and leaving no one behind. For the women of Simiyu, continued investment and stewardship by government will mean that, as is their right, motherhood is a life-changing, rather than a life-threatening experience.