Address by Minister Paradis: Roundtable on Improving Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Tanzania

Thank you for that kind introduction.

Good day, mabibi na ma bwana (ladies and gentlemen) and distinguished guests.

I would like to extend a special greeting to the new Minister of Health and Social Welfare.

And thank his government, and the Aga Khan Development Foundation, for hosting this roundtable with us. 

I’m delighted to see so many:

  • Government of Tanzania officials,
  • development partners,
  • donors,
  • civil society organizations, and
  • private sector representatives.

This kind of cross-sector representation is key to ensuring that every woman and child in Tanzania gains access to the health services and medicine they need.

As you know, improving women’s and children’s health around the world is Canada’s top development priority.

And Tanzania is a key partner in those efforts.

This was underscored in 2010 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Jakaya Kikwete co-chaired the United Nations Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Over the last four years, the Government of Canada has been working closely with the Government of Tanzania to reduce maternal and child mortality in this country.

The progress has been tremendous.

Tanzania has already exceeded its MDG 4 target by reducing infant and child mortality bytwo-thirds.

This is an amazing feat.

And one so crucial and important to so many families.

Tanzania is also on track to meet MDG 6 to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS to less than 5.5 percent.

This is an incredible victory for all Tanzanians.

And it would not have been possible without the leadership of its Government and the support of so many partners.

I think we can all appreciate the amount of effort and coordination it takes to advance these issues.

As we approach the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDGs, we must maintain our focus and investments in these areas.

We must re-double our efforts in the areas that are lagging behind.

Such as newborn and maternal mortality.

Tanzania’s newborn and maternal mortality rates have remained persistently high.

And this despite a number of efforts to bring the numbers down.

The unmet need for reproductive health services and access to life-saving emergency obstetric care is immense.

It is clear that we are making progress.

But we need to stay the course.

We need to continue to save lives.

We need to think about what additional steps we can take.

And we need to explore the role for innovation.  

I want to commend the Government of Tanzania for its willingness to broaden its engagement with the private sector.

You have embraced innovative solutions to fill these gaps.

Canada is proud to support your Government’s public-private partnership with the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation hospital in Tanzania.

More commonly referred to as the CCBRT.

The CCBRT has been working with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and others to improve maternal health care services in existing facilities.

Such partnerships are saving thousands of lives.

And restoring dignity to women across Tanzania.

For example, with support from the Vodafone Foundation and others,,the CCBRT has doubled its capacity to provide free surgery for obstetric fistula to some of the poorest women in the country.

Azam is working with the Government of Tanzania on a food fortification program to address malnutrition.

Barclays Bank of Tanzania has enabled the CCBRT and AMREF to:

  • improve laboratories,
  • purchase medical equipment,
  • train midwives, and
  • provide maternal and reproductive health education to women across the country.

And Tigo has helped to provide much-needed training to midwives in basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care.  

In collaboration with the Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency and UNICEF, Tigo has also developed an innovative mobile birth registration application.

They are successfully improving birth registration across the country.

I look forward to hearing more about this as birth registration and vital statistics are an area of keen interest for Canada.

We will also hear from our Canadian partners, who have some exciting partnerships underway.

The Aga Khan Development Network, with support from the Government of Canada, is developing innovative partnerships between its private health clinics and nearby public health facilities.

Together they are training health workers, improving quality standards, and introducing innovative practices such as eHealth.

The Aga Khan Development Network has helped two public health facilities achieve ISO 9000 certification.

The first two public health facilities to do so in Tanzania.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the kind of cross-sector partnerships we need in order to improve the health of mothers and newborns in Tanzania.

No one country, organization, company or sector has sufficient expertise and resources to fill these gaps on their own.

Successful initiatives often involve partners from multiple industries and sectors.

By working together, we can all contribute to creating a more responsive and effective health system.

One that serves the needs of all Tanzanians.

Today’s roundtable is about listening and learning from each other.

As partners in development, we cannot do this enough.

That is why Canada will continue to take a leadership role in advancing critical maternal, newborn and child health issues like civil registration and vital statistics.

As we saw in 2010 with the launch of the Canadian-led G8 Muskoka Initiative on Maternal and Newborn Child Health, it will take reinforcement from all actors to help us reach our goals.

But, as we can see right here in Tanzania, when we work together, we can achieve so much.

Thank you.