Social-economic and cultural factors influencing maternal mortality in Tanzania: a case study of Mbeya region

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University of Dar es Salaam
The main concern of this study was to explore socioeconomic and cultural factors associated with maternal mortality in Mbeya Region. Four hypotheses guided this study. Through them the study sought to establish empirically the influence of household income, government expenditure, family planning practices, and utilization of maternity services on maternal mortality. To accomplish this task, a descriptive and comparative (case/control) design was employed. A sample of convenience was used. Data was collected through interviews and focus group discussions - involving relatives of the deceased, mothers who delivered safely, traditional birth attendants, religious leaders, and heads of health institutions. The results obtained confirmed our hypotheses. That is, it has been demonstrated that most of the deceased belonged to the low income households as compared to women who survived. Further that, the decrease of government expenditure, coupled with a decline in income, contributed significantly to the increase of maternal deaths. Moreover, the study illustrated that failure to practice family planning and non-utilization of maternity services predisposes women to the otherwise unnecessary deaths. The study identified men's negativism, backed by socio-cultural traditions, as being a stumbling block in family planning practice. On the other hand, ignorance, unfriendly attitudes of the staff towards their clients, and witchcraft beliefs - among others, has been implicated in women's failure to utilize maternity services effectively. Ultimately the study concludes that maternal mortality is not just a medical problem, it is much broader. Recommendations for improvement of the situation and for further research are also provided.
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Mothers, Tanzania (Mbeya region), Mbeya region, Mortality, Birth control, Economics, Sociologicl aspects
Nyamhanga, T. (1997) Social-economic and cultural factors influencing maternal mortality in Tanzania: a case study of Mbeya region, Masters’ dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (