He tried to save a woman during childbirth, but was failed by our system: One man’s story resonates with many at Tanzania Citizen’s Hearing
By Rose Mlay, National Coordinator, WRA Tanzania
Lack of transport is a barrier to quality care: Mr. Dominic Badogeza speaks about how distance to the health centre can cause maternal death during an emergency.
Dominic Badogeza is one of the very few people in Kihinga Village with a car. One night, his village mates woke him up and urgently asked him to take a woman who was experiencing complications after giving birth at Kihinga Dispensary. A father to five children himself, Badogeza was empathetic and quickly dressed up to offer support.
At the dispensary, Badogeza was met by a health worker who told him to rush the woman to nearby Health Centre A, saying they could not handle her profuse bleeding. Badogeza drove the woman and her child as quickly as he could. What Badogeza did not know at the time was that his night had only just started.
The health workers at the Health Centre A also told him they did not offer Comprehensive Emergency and Obstetric Newborn Care (CEmONC) services; they had no blood for the woman and referred her to Health Centre B, which they said were equipped to provide emergency, lifesaving services. It was about 50 KM away, and by then, it was past midnight.
Badogeza’s car was running out of fuel. With 50 KM between the health centre and saving the woman, the anxious Badogeza was relieved when he spotted a parked health centre vehicle in the yard. Badogeza requested that the woman be taken to the referral health centre in the government vehicle, but he was told there was no driver. He volunteered to drive the woman in the government vehicle, but was told that was against the rules.
Badogeza was furious, but determined to save the woman. He bought more fuel for his car and drove the woman to Health Centre B, only to encounter a road block, stopped by security personnel. Thankfully, he was waived through when they realized he had a ‘dying woman’ on board.’
He was relived to finally deliver the woman to the appropriate health centre, confident she was now going to get the care she needed. Even being detained by the night patrol team until morning on his drive back home because they did not know him in their area was not a bother if it meant the new mother would survive.
Despite his heroic efforts, the father of five was upset when he learned the woman passed away, which was confirmed by Ngara Councilor and Kagera Regional Reproductive Maternal and Child Health Coordinator.
Every citizen has a part to play in quality maternal health
Badogeza narrated his painful experience at a Citizens’ Hearing in Kihinga Village, Kagera, organized by White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood Tanzania (WRA Tanzania). WRA Tanzania is part of a global movement aimed at reducing maternal and neonatal deaths. Through initiatives like Citizen Hearings, White Ribbon Alliance has managed to rally the public to understand their part in improving the quality of maternal care services in their communities. By speaking out about their experiences of care, Badogeza and fellow village-mates are helping identify the most pressing challenges and solutions so that together, citizens and government can finally put an end to the tragedy of maternal deaths in Tanzania.
Badogeza’s heartbreaking story reinforced the following recommendations that WRA Tanzania has been advocating for:
- The availability of Comprehensive Emergency Care (CEmONC) services in every community
- Adequate training for health workers especially midwives
- Emergency transport vehicles that are in working order and have available drivers
Conclusion and Recommendations
In Badogeza’s case, the citizens played their role in saving a life during childbirth but the government’s health system failed them, leading to a woman’s death, an orphan and a widower.
While the Government of Tanzania has positioned maternal, newborn health, and CEmONC as a number one priority in the health sector, they must invest more on training adequate numbers of qualified and competent health workers especially midwives who can recognize complications, properly manage and refer expecting mothers to an appropriate health facility on time. It is a pleasure to report that during our citizens’ hearing, the Ngara District Commissioner and Executive Director promised to address this so that another woman does not die in similar circumstances and the media was present to help hold them accountable and amplify citizen’s voices nationally.
Together, we can achieve our vision that all women and girls realize their right to quality health and well-being.