|© UNICEF Tanzania/2008|
|Tanzania's President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (right), joined by the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg (left), at the launch of the 'One Plan' programme, which aims to reduce maternal and child deaths.|
By Georgina Mtenga
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, 13 May 2008 – The President of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, was joined by the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, last month to launch Tanzania's 'One Plan' programme, which aims to accelerate the reduction of maternal, newborn and child deaths in the country.
The launch was attended by more than 250 partners and distinguished guests from Tanzania and Norway.
Mr. Kikwete acknowledged existing challenges, but emphasised that improving access to primary heath care is a priority for Tanzania, as part of his commitment to advancing the UN Millennium Development Goals.
“It is gratifying that the 'One Plan' for accelerating reduction of maternal, newborn and child health is now ready,” said Mr. Kikwete, who noted plans to make health services available within 5 km from each village.
'One Plan' was launched alongside the 'Deliver Now for Women and Children' advocacy campaign – part of a global effort to accelerate the achievement of the MDGs by promoting high-level political commitment, performance-based financing and improved donor coordination.
“The most important reason for lack of progress in reducing maternal deaths is denial – we need more openness and clearer messages,” said Mr. Stoltenberg. “By launching this advocacy campaign ... it is obvious we have realized our shortcomings and we want to become more transparent.”
The President of the Pan-African Parliament, Gertrude Mongella, noted that better methods of collecting data on maternal deaths are greatly needed. “I believe many more women are dying in the villages unrecorded,” said Ms. Mongella.
A global success story
At the launch ceremony, the Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Dr. Francisco Songane, commended Tanzania as one of the global success stories in reducing child mortality.
Mr. Stoltenberg also applauded Tanzania and its President for his leadership, which has resulted in remarkable progress in reducing child mortality.
Ms. Mongella emphasized the urgency of allocating more resources into maternal and child health, despite competing budget priorities. “Before we go out asking for donors’ assistance, we need to recast our national budget to reflect our commitment on maternal, newborn and child health,” she said.