Maternal mortality in urban and rural Tanzania

Maternal mortality in Tanzania has risen and is now increasingly urban. This project will explore in greater depth the reasons for the persistence and deterioration of maternal mortality outcomes, as well as the geographic inequities observed despite the introduction of several interventions at the community and at the facility levels.

If cities are argued to be hubs of economic development, innovation, and growth, why is service delivery failing in these urban spaces and the social life of cities not reflecting improved well-being? These service delivery failures affect individual’s economic productivity and are emphasizing a negative unequitable side of urbanisation and development.

The overall aim of the research is to examine the social determinants of maternal mortality outcomes and health system utilisation in Tanzania. This analysis and focus on public service provision and social determinants of health, has yet to be conducted at a national or urban scale.  Specific research questions include:

  1. Which women are more at risk of maternal mortality; and what associations explain this? What is the context behind the MMR found in Tanzania?
  2. What are the service provision-level determinants that explain variations in maternal mortality?
  3. At what steps in the maternal health care continuum is the health system failing to reach vulnerable women?

The Project analysis will enable us to determine the services pregnant women received when accessing health care, and potential risks or limitations of the services received. The 4 D’s of maternal mortality identify 4 delays which result in maternal mortality. This analysis will identify where inefficiencies emerge and thereby areas where strategic investment is required.


  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Maternal mortality in urban and rural Tanzania: Social determinants and health system efficiency

    Maternal mortality rates (MMRs) in Tanzania have remained stubbornly high over the last decade, at around 500 per 100,000 live births. Previous research indicates unequal burden of MMRs and large variations across regions. This brief uses the 2015/16 Tanzania Demographic Health Survey (TDHS) and 2012 National Census to provide an overview of MMRs. The brief...

    22 Feb 2019 | Josephine Shabani, Gemma Todd, Anna Nswilla , Godfrey Mbaruku