Mobilising maternal health care in Tanzania

Mobile for Good - Tanzania

Vodafone Foundation & the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation hospital, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania:

In January 2011 the Vodafone Foundation partnered with the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation hospital in Tanzania (CCBRT).  CCBRT uses Vodafone M-PESA money transfer to enable some of the poorest and most desperate women in the country to receive corrective surgery for obstetric fistula.  

Obstetric fistula is a disabling condition that leaves women incontinent as a result of prolonged or obstructed labour.  On average there are 3,000 new cases of obstetric fistula each year in Tanzania.   Untreated fistula can lead to chronic medical and psychological problems and women are often socially excluded, extremely poor, and geographically isolated.  Corrective surgery is simple and inexpensive yet estimates suggest up to 24,000 women have been left untreated and suffering with fistula since the millennium.

The Vodafone Foundation has partnered with Vodacom and CCBRT with an aim to increase the number of fistula repairs performed annually.

Using M-PESA women from the poorest communities receive the funds for transport costs to hospital.  CCBRT has recruited an ambassadorial network that runs throughout Tanzania helping to find and refer women suffering with obstetric fistula in some of the most isolated parts of the country.  Within an hour of referral, CCBRT sends funds via M-PESA to cover the woman's travel costs to hospital.  On arrival the patient presents their ticket value and if correct the hospital forwards a $3 incentive payment via M-PESA to the referring CCBRT ambassador. This payment is made by CCBRT to help strengthen and expand their ambassadorial network.  This network is vital in allowing CCBRT to increase the number of women they treat annually.

Using this simple infrastructure the number of patients treated for obstetric fistula at CCBRT rose from 168 surgeries in 2009 to 338 surgeries in 2011, an increase of over 100% in two years. In 2014 the number of surgeries had increased to 724 and over 60% of women who came for surgery were admitted via the M-PESA ‘text to Treatment’ programme  

Despite this significant increase in the number of women treated, thousands continue to suffer.  With the support of the Vodafone Foundation, CCBRT can treat and make a significant contribution to the eradication of suffering from obstetric fistula in Tanzania.

On 29 September 2011 Vodafone and its Foundation pledged to raise over £7 million by June 2012 which was exceeded.  Funds raised have been used to refresh the maternal health facilities at CCBRT disability hospital, to create a new dedicated maternity hospital in the centre of Dar es Salaam, to provide new maternal health facilities in northern Tanzania and to provide a national awareness and prevention campaign around obstetric fistula and maternal health. 

All statistics were provided by the CCBRT, Dar es Salaam - December 2011

CCBRT and Vodafone Foundation (PDF 3MB)