26 September 2012

Tanzania: City Pushes for Improved Contraceptive Access

Photo: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
A woman in labor and hours from a hospital must give birth in her home.

FOR the first time, district councils will be obliged to allocate money for contraceptives and all family planning facilities in the 2013/2014 budget, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda has said.

He revealed this in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ms Regina Kikuli, who announced that the government intends to increase financing to family planning so that mothers get access to contraceptives.

Ms Kikuli, on behalf of the PM, also officially opened an international Family Planning Advocacy for Action Meeting organized by Advanced Family Planning and inspired by a Summit held in London in July. She told delegates that they were putting in place a plan to ensure shortages, that were prominent, do not occur again.

She said the government will ensure 'own' resources are allocated, disbursed and utilized to improve family planning; that more women in rural Tanzania benefit from these services, and young people eligible to accessing these services exercise their right to do so.

"The government will also strive to invest in strengthening the capacity of service providers towards improving the quality of care and minimising service provider biases to allow family planning users enjoy the right to contraceptive choice," she said. She said President Jakaya Kikwete is determined to ensure sufficient investments are made in family planning so that no woman risks her life as a result of frequent births or unplanned pregnancies.

"President Kikwete's participation at the London Family Planning Summit in July this year and his role in the Global Strategy for Women and Children's Health, demonstrates his dedication as well as renewed political commitment to family planning," she said.

She appreciated that Tanzania is still grappling with issues of contraceptive access, ensuring method mix to enhance contraceptive choice, as well as having in place skilled service providers to promote service delivery and informed choice.

She said they were aware that attaining set goals such as 60 per cent contraceptive prevalence rate by 2015; reduction of maternal mortality rate of 454 per 100,000 live births, which is currently among the highest in the sub-Saharan Region, is a challenge.

"It requires strong political commitment, strong and visionary leadership, and strong determination to turn things around. I want to assure you that the government has braced itself to do exactly that given the fundamental role of family planning for individual, family, and societal well-being. Family planning touches all facets of our lives," she said.

According to her, the world had come a long way since the first population-related conferences in the 70s and 80s in Bucharest (1974) and Mexico City (1984) that climaxed in Cairo, with the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994.

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