Experiences of a multiple intervention trial to increase maternity care access in rural Tanzania: Focus group findings with women, nurses and community health workers

Womens Health (Lond). 2020 Jan-Dec:16:1745506520969617. doi: 10.1177/1745506520969617.


Objectives: In order to improve maternal health and women's access to maternity care services in Rorya District, Mara, Northern Tanzania, we introduced several interventions across the district from 2018 to 2019. The interventions were workshops with nurses to encourage respectful care of women and transportation subsidies for women to reach the health facilities for delivery. In addition, we trained community health workers to educate couples about safe birthing options using m-health applications, to collaborate with nurses to distribute clean birth kits with misoprostol and to hold village meetings to shift community norms. This article reports on the experiences of women, community health workers and nurses during the study.

Methods: Focus group discussions were conducted with a convenience sample of these groups to understand the successes and challenges of the interventions.

Results: The workshops with nurses to encourage respectful maternity care and the birth kits with misoprostol were appreciated by all and were an incentive for women to seek health services. While the m-health applications were innovative, the system required significant oversight and a stable network. The village meetings demonstrated some success and should be expanded. Travel subsidies were problematic to implement and only helpful to the minority who received them.

Conclusion: Multiple intervention strategies are needed to help women access maternity care services in rural locations and should be designed to meet needs within the local context. In Rorya District, access to quality health care was improved through training nurses to provide respectful care and using community health workers to educate the population about safe birthing practices and to provide women with clean birth kits. Despite the current limitations of m-health, there is much potential for development. Finding solutions to women's need for transport is a particular challenge and will likely require innovative community-based approaches.

Keywords: Tanzania; birth kits; community health workers; facility births; m-health; maternal mortality; maternity care; misoprostol.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Workers*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services
  • Nurses*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Rural Population
  • Tanzania

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