The operating room, powered by a rumbling generator, was the only spot of light in this village of mud huts and maize fields. A mask with a frayed cord was fastened over the woman’s face. Moments later the cloying smell of ether filled the room, and then Emmanuel Makanza picked up his instruments and made the first cut for a Caesarean section.
Mr. Makanza is not a doctor, a fact that illustrates both the desperation and the creativity of Tanzanians fighting to reduce the number of deaths and injuries among pregnant women and infants.
Pregnancy and childbirth kill more than 536,000 women a year, more than half of them in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
Most of the deaths are preventable, with basic obstetrical care.