Maternal Health Rights
Photo credit: Every Woman Every Child




Helping to Reduce Maternal Mortality in Tanzania


Since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, Tanzania has experienced a substantial reduction in child mortality rates; however, avoidable maternal mortality remains high. Women die due to pregnancy or birth-related causes at a ratio of 398 per 100,000. The main direct causes of maternal death are haemorrhages, infections, unsafe abortions, hypertensive disorders and obstructed labours. The presence of these causes is exacerbated by the prevalence of HIV and of malaria, Tanzania’s number one killer.

The Tanzanian government has made promises to its people to improve these rates by setting out its goals to reduce maternal mortality and by signing up to international conventions and initiatives; however, the government’s obligations under these conventions have not been made national law. National law is confusing and sometimes contradictory in this area, and centralised funding for adequate services remains low. Without clarity around women’s legal rights, it is very difficult for women in Tanzania to actively demand adequate maternal care, or for the government to be legally held to account to provide emergency obstetric and new born care services, skilled health providers or a strong referral system.

The Lawyer’s Circle has made a commitment to our partner the UN Every Woman Every Child Campaign to assist the Tanzanian government in the process of ratifying and introducing international conventions on maternal health rights into the national institutions and legal system by:

a) co-ordinating the provision of over £150,000 of legal advice, analysis, negotiation and multi-stakeholder coordination to produce a series of recommendations for the ratification of international conventions and Every Woman Every Child commitments into Tanzanian law; and

b) providing accessible materials explaining maternal health rights to Tanzanian citizens.

Following this work, the Lawyer’s Circle hopes to produce a Maternal Health Rights toolkit for analysing the legal framework surrounding maternal health rights that can be used in other jurisdictions.

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