Examining socio-cultural factors contributing to high maternal mortality rate in Tanzania: the case of Mtwara rural district

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University of Dar es Salaam
Maternal mortality continues to be a serious problem in developing countries; Tanzania included. Many women die as a result of pregnancy and child bearing. Tanzania has undertaken several initiatives to fight the problem. Such efforts include: establishment of Reproductive and Child Health Section, revision of the National Health Policy, Development of Health Sector Reforms, and establishment of Health Sector Strategic Plan in 2003. Despite all these efforts, maternal mortality is still a problem. Thus, the persistence of the problem compelled the researcher to investigate the socio-cultural factors as among the forces behind maternal mortality in Tanzania. The objective of this study was specifically to examine socio-cultural factors influencing maternal mortality in Mtwara rural district, to asses the availability of social services in the study area and identify their impacts on reproductive health, as well as to examine people’s perceptions on maternal mortality problem in the society. The study was carried out in two wards: Mahurunga and Nanguruwe in Mtwara rural district. The study involved 110 respondents from different villages across two aforementioned wards. The study involved interviews (structured, unstructured), and focused group discussions which were conducted with the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs).The study identified some cultural practices contributing to the problem that still prevail in some rural areas of Tanzania. These included early marriages and child birth, inappropriate age for initiation rituals, dominance of traditional care, and cultural taboos on feeding habits. Moreover, data revealed that the majority of respondents see maternal mortality as a misfortune that happens when God wishes, and so nothing can stop God’s plan. Also, these people are attached so much to their culture so much that they do almost everything by following their cultural traditions, even when they have bad impacts to them. This has made some women to mistrust the medical personnel, and the TBAs. Recommendations include TBAs be incorporated in the struggle against maternal mortality problem. That is they should be trained with modern midwifery skills in order to safely help pregnant women. Also, further studies should be conducted on how TBAs may help to end maternal mortality problem
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Maternal mortality, Socio-cultural, Tanzania, Mtwara, Socio-cultural, Tanzania, Mtwara
Millanz, A. (2010) Examining socio-cultural factors contributing to high maternal mortality rate in Tanzania: the case of Mtwara rural district. Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available athttp://