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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 12:03 GMT
Tanzania multiple birth surprise
By Vicky Ntetema
BBC News, Dar es Salaam

Mother with triplets
Africa's population is expected to double by 2050
Two sets of quads, two lots of triplets and twins were born at a Tanzanian hospital, while experts in the country discussed Africa's growing population.

"Five mothers delivering a total of 16 babies at a go is a big surprise to us," Muhimbili Hospital paediatrician Augustine Massawe told the BBC.

They were all born premature, but should be able to go home with their families in two weeks, he said.

Hundreds of experts are looking at how to reduce Africa's population growth.

By 2050, sub-Saharan Africa's population may double if growth trends are not reversed.

Some 700 experts from around the world have been meeting in Arusha to discuss how Africa - which the UN estimates has a population of 850m - can cope with the knock-on effects of high population growth.

Challenges

Twenty-six-year-old Ashura Athumani, who gave birth to quads, looked healthy but exhausted after the birth.

I remember once when a parent who had four children here - their husband ran away because he was so scared
Dr Augustine Massawe

She has three other children and expressed her concerns for the health of the newborn.

In the same ward, Mariam, 25, nursed her babies and said she was over the moon to have a set of triplets.

It was not until the later stages of her pregnancy that she found out that she was carrying three babies - as in Tanzania not every woman is given an early scan.

She added that there would be financial problems ahead as she and her husband had not been prepared for more than one baby in their first year of marriage.

Dr Massawe says the parents will have to face many challenges head on in their effort to raise their new children.

"It's like a crisis in the family - imagine you've got four babies in one go," he said.

"I remember once when a parent who had four children here - their husband ran away because he was so scared."

Recently Muhimbili Hospital came in for unwanted media attention after a man died in a surgical mix-up involving two people with the same first name. One needed brain surgery, the other a knee operation.

Patients are now tagged with their name when admitted.

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