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Building an Enhanced Cadre of Community Health Workers to Improve Maternal and Newborn Health in Rural Tanzania (IMCHA)

One woman dies in childbirth in Tanzania every hour. With such high rates of maternal and newborn mortality, this project will address the problem by giving community health workers greater skills to assess and treat women, while extending the healthcare system's reach to rural women and newborns.

Rural obstacles to better health
In the Mara region of Tanzania, nearly 60% of births occur outside of health facilities. A high proportion of these births result in poor outcomes for the mother, newborn, or both. Reducing maternal and newborn deaths in Tanzania involves overcoming barriers to accessing rural healthcare facilities and improving access to quality community health care. These barriers include:
-lack of qualified human resources
-long distances to health facilities
-high cost and poor availability of transportation
-lack of knowledge of the risks related to non-facility births
-cultural beliefs about avoiding professional care

Extending health care's reach
The project team will train community healthcare workers to improve how they assess and treat women and infants, and extend health care to rural areas. They will evaluate interventions to improve antenatal care and delivery, such as prenatal vitamins and travel vouchers to get women to health facilities for screening of hypertensive disorders, HIV, and other conditions. Community health workers will use mobile phones to improve routine processes such as birth registration and monitoring stocks and workflows.

The research team will generate evidence on sustainable interventions for delivering community-based primary health care in Tanzania that improves access to antenatal care and skilled delivery. They will focus on ways to enhance the knowledge and role of community health workers and to increase their use of mobile health (mhealth).

The project will help guide policymakers at all levels of government to explore scaling up interventions that can improve outcomes for mothers and newborns.

Project partners
This project is part of the Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa program. The program is a seven-year $36 million initiative funded by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
42 months
IDRC Officer
Sana Naffa
Total Funding
CA$ 933,072.00
Global Health
Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa
Institution Country
Project Leader
Bwire wa-Chirangi
Shirati KMT Council Designated Hospital
Institution Country
Project Leader
Gail Webber
Bruyere Research Institute/Institute de Recherche Bruyere