18. December 2015

Life Support for Mothers and Babies in Dar es Salaam

The Swedish organisation Life Support Foundation will contribute to save mothers and babies through the teaching of basic life support measures in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Foto: Noomi Lind, Life Support Foundation


Life Support Foundation is a medical organisation aiming to prevent deaths due to acute, life-threatening conditions in low-income countries through improving the access to and quality of basic life-saving interventions.

Recently the organisation, with the support of the Kavli Trust, started the project ”Life Support for Mothers and Babies in Dar”.

The goal of the project is to see more newborns leave the hospital in the arms of their mothers.

8000 mothers

Every day in 2015 830 women die because of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Nearly all of these deaths occur in low-resource settings and are preventable. The main reasons are bleeding, pre-eclampsia and infections.

Every year 8000 mothers die in Tanzania. That translates into 410 dead mothers for every 100 000 babies born. In Sweden the corresponding number is 4.

And, as in every country in this world, the death of a mother has devastating effects on the loved ones she leaves behind. In a low-resource setting it also gravely impacts the possibilities of her children to have a future at all.


35 newborns

For every 1000 live births in Tanzania 35 babies die. In Sweden the figure is 2,4. According to the WHO up to two thirds of the deaths of newborns can be prevented if simple and effective health measures are applied immediately after birth.

The main causes of these deaths are infections, birth trauma and poor breathing, all of which can be prevented by applying the basic principles of maternity care and ABC Life Support (A=Airways, B=Breathing, C=Circulation).

Spreading the knowledge and use of the ABCs of life support can have a great impact on the survival of mothers and babies in low-resource settings.

Through an established collaboration with hospitals and authorities in Dar es Salaam, the Life Support Foundation aims to strengthen the specialty of anaesthesia, which is home to the life support principles needed to save lives in any setting. It is the anesthetist who is called to do necessary life support measures when a patient is not breathing, bleeds heavily or needs other intensive care to survive.


Resuscitation and anaesthesia

Life Support Foundation conducts training in Dar es Salaam, focusing on basic life saving measures, such as how to evaluate and resuscitate mothers with heavy bleeding, how to help newborns breathe, and how to give safe anaesthesia for Caesarean sections.

Staff exchanges between Stockholm and Dar es Salaam are conducted to increase morale, knowledge and skills. Effective clinical guidelines and checklists for Tanzanian hospitals are being developed and pulse oximeters are being introduced into operating theatres and recovery rooms to ensure safe and quality care.

The work is strengthened through research projects that investigate the best methods of conducting anaesthesia and life support in low-resource settings.

Read more about the Life Support Foundation here.