Improve Maternal and Newborn Health
Augment medical supplies to test for anemia
Red blood cells contain hemoglobin (Hb), a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body. During pregnancy, a woman needs double the normal amount to transport enough oxygen to meet both her and her fetus’ needs.
As documented in a 2018 retrospective study hemoglobin levels during early pregnancy play a role in predicting the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), pre-eclampsia (PE) and preterm birth. Both GDM and PE contribute significantly to maternal, fetal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. Preterm birth is a major determinant of neonatal death. Plus, children who are born prematurely have a higher risk of cerebral palsy, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary illnesses or psychological diseases, and these conditions can persist throughout life.
A 2021 study found anemia in pregnancy to be persistently high and prevalent among 57% of pregnant women in Tanzania. Today many dispensaries in Ayalagaya and Arri do not have an Hb meter or sufficient Hb test strips to test pregnant women or those looking to become pregnant. We expect that more women are anemic, but are not being diagnosed and treated for their anemia.
To address this shortfall, Karimu is purchasing Hb meters for clinics that don’t have them as well as Hb test strips to use with the meters. We are working with the government to improve the availability of Hb test strips in the future, but it will take time to ramp up the availability of the supplies from the government.
The goals of this project are to test all expectant mothers for anemia and for the government to provide the resources to do so. We will be tracking the number of kits used, those provided by the government, and those provided by Karimu. We expect it will take 2-3 years to reach a steady state where the government is providing all the resources and all expectant mothers are routinely tested.
We recognize that to address anemia it is imperative to address important risk factors such as food insecurity and empower women with education and especially nutritional knowledge. These are key targets of the current health survey project and what we hope will be a malnutrition project in 2022.
- Improve maternal and infant health
Learn more about Karimu Health Program .