15 June 2007 Stara Thomas, a Tanzanian singer known throughout Swahili-speaking Africa, is joining forces with the United Nations and its partners to advocate for safe motherhood.
“In our country there is joy; in our country there is peace; in our country there is hope, but we still need to protect the women and the children, because their health is our future,” said Stara, a mother of two who has written and performed an anthem about promoting safe motherhood and infant health called ‘Play your Part,’ which has become a hit, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said in a news release.
“The song talks about how a pregnant woman’s health is supposed to be taken care of by specialists in order to reduce the number of women and children dying during the delivery time,” said the singer.
In Tanzania, the maternal mortality rate is 578 deaths per 100,000 live births and the infant mortality rate is 68 deaths per 1,000 live births. More than half of all pregnant women in the country deliver at home without a skilled birth attendant.
Stara voiced hope that her song will help motivate the Tanzanian Government to increase the number of midwives and mobilize communities for reproductive health.
“At the moment of birth, that’s when most of the deaths happen – at birth and just after birth. We need skilled attendants at birth to be able to detect problems and make referrals to emergency obstetric care if needed,” said Arletty Pinel, Chief of the Reproductive Health Branch of UNFPA.
“Maternal deaths are not normal events. Women die because something goes wrong. Most women die, because they don’t have access to life saving measures.”
The efforts being made in Tanzania are part of a larger global campaign by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, consisting of more than 120 members representing partner countries, UN agencies, including UNFPA, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), health professional associations, donors, foundations and academic and research institutions from around the world.