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Tanzania & Zanzibar

Tanzanian Mother & Baby In Tanzania, childbirth is an uncertain event. Before going to deliver their babies, mothers will often tell their older children, "Mama is going down to the river, it is a dangerous journey, and I may not return."

VSI seeks to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for the hundreds of thousands of Tanzanian mothers who give birth every year. In 2007, Tanzania became the second country in Africa to register misoprostol to address a leading cause of maternal death: postpartum hemorrhage; in January 2011, its approved use was expanded to include another leading killer of women, incomplete abortion and miscarriage. Because of our efforts, public facilities can procure the drug and a market exists in the commercial sector. Taken together, an effective, quality medicine is closer to the women who need it most.

To date, VSI and our partners have improved women's health in Tanzania and Zanzibar by:

  • Training midwives, nurses and doctors to use misoprostol to prevent postpartum hemorrhage and as a component of postabortion care.
  • Ensuring government policies integrate misoprostol into safe motherhood initiatives, like Ministry-approved clean delivery packs including the tablets.
  • Putting medicine in the hands of women: Through our operations research we demonstrated that women themselves can safely take the tablets received at prenatal care at home births.
Building upon these accomplishments, in 2011, VSI began an expanded program in Tanzania focused on availability of misoprostol, a key maternal health solution. The overarching goal of this initiative was to improve women’s access misoprostol where and when they need it by identifying current challenges and opportunities to product access. Read the results of the Availability Case Study.
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By the Numbers

Estimated Total Population

43.7 M

Lifetime Risk of Maternal Death

1 woman in 23

Maternal Mortality Ratio

790 per 100,000 live-births

Total Fertility Rate


Births Attended by Skilled Health Provider


Unmet Need for Family Planning


Source: PRB, 2011 and WHO, 2010

Registered Misoprostol Product(s): Misotac®, Misoprost®

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