Tanzania has one of the highest maternal and newborn death rates in the world, with 556 deaths per 100,000 live births. Roughly 63% of births occur in health facilities. About 36% of births occur at home. Access to skilled maternal health at birth in remote rural settings is particularly challenging. There is a marked disparity in skilled birth attendant coverage between urban (83%) and rural areas (51%). While 98% of pregnant women aged 15-49 receive antenatal care at least once from a skilled provider, only 51% of women receive the minimally required 4 antenatal care visits. Only 34% of women receive postnatal check-ups within two days of their delivery, and 63% of women do not receive a postnatal check up at all within the first 41 days of delivery.
Midwives can play an instrumental role in ensuring that women and their babies receive a continuum of skilled care during pregnancy, childbirth and the important days immediately after birth. According to the UNFPA, qualified midwives could avert 83% of maternal and newborn deaths. The Lancet reports that countries that have taken policy action and increased the number of midwives have resulted in significant improvement to maternal and newborn survival rates.