International Studies & Programs

Human Health

Human health projects focus on improving health care, nutrition, and reproductive health and providing education on the importance of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene.


eye exam.jpgTanzania has made substantial progress to improve child survival rates but improvements in maternal and newborn survival and family planning lag behind. Tanzania’s under-five mortality rate continues to fall, yet maternal mortality rates remain stubbornly high at approximately 400 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015. A major contributing factor is that more than half of births in Tanzania occur at home in unsanitary conditions without the assistance of medically-trained attendants.


Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health

In February 2015 Patricia Peek, professor emeritus of MSU’s College of Nursing, found that the vast majority of Naitolia women give birth at home with the assistance of an untrained Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA).

The conditions for birthing are usually not sanitary. Often women develop post-partum infections and need medical treatment one to two weeks after delivery. Women who have complications during delivery must walk or hire a motorbike to reach the dispensary located as far as 10 kilometers from their homes. Even in the midst of significant medical complications, there are often delays in seeking treatment. According to the clinic’s nurse midwife, by the time a woman arrives at the clinic, her life can often be saved but the life of the infant cannot. To address these problems, TPP developed two pilot activities.

Delivery Kit Project

  • Ten delivery kits were left at the Makuyuni clinic to be given out to Naitolia women during their last trimester of pregnancy. The kits contain supplies women need for deliveries at the clinic. In addition to the kits, educational materials are given to the women at each prenatal visit.
  • Educational materials, stereoscopes, and blood pressure cuffs were given to the Makuyuni dispensary to help educate and attend to pregnant women.
  • Four wall-size Danger Signs of Pregnancy posters were provided to display at the Makuyuni Health Clinic, the Naitolia Health Dispensary, and the District Medical and Health offices. In addition, 100 poster handouts designed to fit inside women’s prenatal cards were distributed to pregnant women during their prenatal visits to the Makuyuni Health Clinic.

Tea with a Midwife

  • Tea with a Midwife introduced villagers to the Makuyuni Clinic doctor and midwife. The needs assessment demonstrated that the village women knew little about reproductive health, though they had received information about HIV/AIDS from a local NGO. They were eager to understand how their bodies worked, what to do when they were pregnant, and how to ensure their babies were born healthy. They also encouraged their husbands to participate.
  • Over 50 people attended the tea including women and men of reproductive age, the eight Naitolia traditional birth attendants (TBAs), village leaders, village health workers and the village health committee.
  • The doctor and midwife introduced themselves and shared information on reproductive health, including the Danger Signs During Pregnancy poster. They encouraged use of family planning and urged women to deliver their babies at the clinic.
  • The Danger Signs During Pregnancy poster was printed as a brochure to go inside the prenatal cards given to the women who come to the clinic. It was also displayed in a large format at both the local clinic and the district health center.