Moshi — THE Union of Women NGOs in Tanzania has decried the decision to allocate little budget for the health sector and called upon more resources towards reproductive health.
Leaders of the organisations from different regions that form FOKUS Programme had a meeting here from June 16 to 20 to ponder, discuss and analyse challenges in reproductive health.
Speaking on Saturday, FOKUS spokesperson, Ms Elizabeth Philipo, said they were astonished to find out that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare was allocated only 1.5 tr/-, which is a mere 7.5 per cent of the total budget.
She said this is contrary to the Abuja Declaration which the government ratified and which indicates that health budget should be 15 per cent of the annual budget.
"Health services are deteriorating because resources are not channelled in them, especially the reproductive health and this can be well noted because Big Results Now (BRN) does not even include the health sector.
"Child marriages and early pregnancies are on the rise and 24 per cent of pregnant women die during delivery, 6 per cent being girls under the age of 18 years and 8,000 girls drop out of school annually due to early pregnancies," said Ms Philipo, who represents Kigoma Women' Promotion Centre (WPC).
FOKUS Programme comprises of WPC, TUSONGE, Tanzania Women Research Foundation (TAWREF), Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), Kilimanjaro Women Information Exchange and Consultancy (KWIECO), Dodoma Inter African Committee (DIAC), Singida Inter African Committee (SIAC), and Chole Society for Women and Development (CSWD).
The women called upon decision- making bodies to be more effective in tackling gender-based violence on time and related court cases should be sped up so that justice is done and noted by the public.
"We call upon The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to be more proactive in challenges that face women on reproductive health by formulating policy and laws that protect girls and women," said the women in their statement.
They took a swipe at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), saying it should prepare and supply correct and timely statistics. They said that they prefer for it to mention figures and not percentages as their veracity tend to show the problem is smaller than the reality.
Ms Jennifer Chiwute from DIAC said it is strange to note that expectant mothers are forced to bring with them water, gloves and syringes to hospital and health centres for delivery while the policy says quite the opposite.