HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

2012 census shows improvements in public health
The number of years the average Tanzanian can expect to live has risen to 61 years, up from 50 years in 1988 and 51 years in 2002, according to the latest release of data from the 2012 Census. The report also showed that similarly strong progress has been made in maternal and infant mortality rates. The maternal mortality rate has dropped from 578 per 100,000 live births in 2004/5 to 432 per 100,000 in 2012, and the infant mortality rate has declined from 115 per 1,000 live births in 1988 to 45 per 1,000 in 2012.

The fertility level declined from 6.5 in 1988 to 6.3 in 2002 and 5.2 in 2012. ‘It’s a positive trend accelerated by higher use of modern contraceptives and female education while the age at first marriage has been rising,’ commented Ms Albina Chuwa, director general of the National Bureau of Statistics.

The mean age for female first marriage rose from 21 in 2002 to 22 in 2012 while that of males remained steady at 26, according to the report. (The Citizen)

Dengue Fever Outbreak
There was widespread concern, particularly in Dar es Salaam, after an outbreak of Dengue Fever in May. Within a couple of weeks, the Ministry of Health announced that 400 cases had been reported, of which three patients had died.

There was a fear that popular awareness of malarial prevention and treatment could work against dengue control. Dengue is spread by a different species of mosquito, popular practice of self-diagnosis and treatment could create problems.

Worries rose briefly to panic, when a high profile doctor at Temeke Regional Hospital, Gilbert Buberwa, died. This prompted President Kikwete to take action, directing the Health and Finance Ministries to do whatever was necessary to bring the outbreak under control, and urging the public to take precautions.

By July, the rate of infections had dropped to such an extent that the National Institute for Medical Research could not find a single Dengue Fever patient in Dar hospitals.

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