Open Access Open Badges Research article

Quality of neonatal healthcare in Kilimanjaro region, northeast Tanzania: learning from mothers' experiences

Bernard Mbwele1*, Nicole L Ide2, Elizabeth Reddy345, Sarah A P Ward6, Joshua A Melnick7, Flavian A Masokoto8 and Rachael Manongi9

Author Affiliations

1 Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, P.O Box 2236, KCMC, Moshi, Tanzania

2 Seattle Pacific University, 3307 3rd Ave West, Seattle, WA 98119-1997, USA

3 Department of Medicine Duke University, P.O Box 3010, Moshi, Tanzania

4 Division of Infectious Disease, P.O Box 3010, Moshi, Tanzania

5 Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre-Duke University Collaboration, P.O Box 3010, Moshi, Tanzania

6 Bowdoin College, Bowdoin College, 5000 South Street, Brunswick, ME 04011, USA

7 University of Georgia, Athens, GA 39602, Greece

8 Uru Mawela Parish, Moshi Diocese at P.O Box 3011, Moshi, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

9 Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College, P.O Box 2240, KCMC, Moshi, Tanzania

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BMC Pediatrics 2013, 13:68  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-68

Published: 3 May 2013



With a decline of infant mortality rates, neonatal mortality rates are striking high in development countries particularly sub Saharan Africa. The toolkit for high quality neonatal services describes the principle of patient satisfaction, which we translate as mother’s involvement in neonatal care and so better outcomes. The aim of the study was to assess mothers’ experiences, perception and satisfaction of neonatal care in the hospitals of Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania.


A cross sectional study using qualitative and quantitative approaches in 112 semi structured interviews from 14 health facilities. Open ended questions for detection of illness, care given to the baby and time spent by the health worker for care and treatment were studied. Probing of the responses was used to extract and describe findings by a mix of in-depth interview skills. Closed ended questions for the quantitative variables were used to quantify findings for statistical use. Narratives from open ended questions were coded by colours in excel sheet and themes were manually counted.


80 mothers were interviewed from 13 peripheral facilities and 32 mothers were interviewed at a zonal referral hospital of Kilimanjaro region. 59 mothers (73.8%) in the peripheral hospitals of the region noted neonatal problems and they assisted for attaining diagnosis after a showing a concern for a request for further investigations. 11 mothers (13.8%) were able to identify the baby’s diagnosis directly without any assistance, followed by 7 mothers (8.7%) who were told by a relative, and 3 mothers (3.7%) who were told of the problem by the doctor that their babies needed medical attention. 24 times mothers in the peripheral hospitals reported bad language like “I don’t have time to listen to you every day and every time.” 77 mothers in the periphery (90.6%) were not satisfied with the amount of time spent by the doctors in seeing their babies.


Mothers of the neonates play great roles in identifying the illness of the newborn. Mother’s awareness of what might be needed during neonatal support strategies to improve neonatal care in both health facilities and the communities.

Neonatal; Mothers; Quality of care; Parents; Family; Satisfaction; Challenges; Kilimanjaro; Tanzania