Dissatisfaction with traditional birth attendants in rural Tanzania

Godfrey Mbaruku, Beverly Msambichaka, Sandro Galea, Peter C Rockers, Margaret E Kruk
International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics 2009, 107 (1): 8-11

OBJECTIVE: To assess women's satisfaction with traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in rural Tanzania.

METHOD: A population-representative sample of households in Kasulu district was used to collect data on demographics, childbirth history, and perception of TBAs and doctors/nurses from women who had recently had a child and from their partners.

RESULTS: Two-thirds of women who gave birth in a health facility reported being very satisfied with the experience, compared with 21.2% of women who delivered at home with TBAs. A sizeable proportion of women felt that TBAs had poor medical skills (23.1%), while only 0.3% of women felt the same about doctors' and nurses' skills. Of women who delivered with a TBA, 16.0% reported that TBAs had poor medical skills whereas 0.5% stated the same for doctors and nurses.

CONCLUSION: Although many women delivered at home in this rural study district, women and their partners reported higher confidence in doctors and nurses than in TBAs. Policymakers and program managers should not assume that women prefer TBAs to trained professionals for delivery but should consider system barriers to facility delivery in interventions aimed at reducing maternal mortality.

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