The name is now an old vocabulary in many parts of Singida like Ilongero ward, Singida Rural were a project to encourage men to become better informed and more involved in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) is being implemented.
The two-year project known as TMEP is being implanted in Singida region where a total of 62 wards in the districts of Singida Rural District, Manyoni and Singida Urban are taking part.
An Ilongero couple testifies this. Juma Athumani and Mwanahamis Hamis of Iddi Simba village in Singida Rural District have been sensitized by the TMEP. The husband helps her wife in all house chores including fetching accompanying his wife to health centre, fetching firewood and water and even cooking.
Mwanahamis Hamis was the first person to be sensitized after she attended one of the sensitization sessions by the TMEP. “I was told by the a nurse at the Ilongero Health Centre to bring my husband to the clinic where he could be told how to help me as I have already conceived,” she said.
“I now feel that I am more loved by my husband than before,” she says.
Her husband Juma Athmani says she was very nicely welcomed by the health providers at the health centre.
He says after being sensitized by the health service providers at the clinic on reproductive health, I have managed to make a decision to have as few children as possible.
“I am now sending the message of men helping women in all matters to as many men as possible,” he says expressing, “already seven men who are my neighbours have taken my example after sensitizing them.”
The Nurse In-charge of the Ilongero Hospital, Grace Kishindo said men in the ward have much been sensitized by the project’s goals.
“Once it was difficult for a woman to tell their husbands what we have asked them to tell their spouses. We told then to tell their spouses to have diet food for their wives, they will not tell them because spouses would think that is only their way of asking good food,” she says.
She said for example that between January and June last year there were 359 pregnant women who attended clinic at the centre out of which 238 women came with their spouses.
She says there still some challenges although surmountable. She says there was a secondary school which has no hostels for school girls.
“The situation is that many of the girls get pregnant and some of them contract sexually transmitted diseases (STIs),” she says.
“In many households things have turned to better than before,” she said noting that earlier many women came to the clinic in dirty attire. These days because women come with their spouses, they wear decent clothes so that they appear smart the health facility,” he says. She also speaks of scarcity of workers at the health centre noting that there are altogether 18 workers at the health centre out of the needed 30 workers.
The Singida District Medical Officer (DMO) says there is a reduced number of women who die during delivery (two of them since the beginning of the year.
There is also a scarcity of health facilities in the district. There are only 60 health facilities in the district when there are 181 villages in the district. “This would reduce a big distances that women walk to health facilities. At least 100 health facilities in the district could help,” he says, stating that some women walk between 10 to 15 kilometres to the nearest health facility.
He said the distriuct only have half number of cadres needed pinpointing out that nurses are the most scarce.
In Singida the projects seeks to do community sensitization, training of male peer educators, weekly training of male peer educators, weekly training sessions and targeting men, message and materials development, gender focused discussions.
Others are partnering with folk media groups for community based-based IEC activities among others.
Other activities include orientation of health services providers and SRHR including male friendly services, training voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) counselors on working with sexuality of people living with HIV and Aids and conducting quarterly meetings with community health management teams (CHMTs).
There has been a lot of achievements so far according to TMEP Executive Director, Cuthbert Maendaenda. While the target was to increase utilization of SRHR services by the end of the project, the percent so far reached now is estimated to be 60 percent.
“The target will be reached since the utilization is 60 percent so far,” a report says.
As for men as agents of change the target was to train 300 peer educators and to have 20 percent annual increase in attendance by men.
The result is that already 300 peer educators have been trained in SRHR. The annual increase in attendance by men has not been calculated.
Also attendance for SRHR services (VCT), STI diagnosis and treatment and family planning there were 60 percent higher in 2011 than in 2010.
The target was to have at least 15 percent annual increase attendance in SRHR services.
In capacity building the aim was to train 126 TOTS at ward and district level by the end of 2011. All in all there were 295 TOTS who have been trained.
As for mainstreaming and advocacy the aim was to have the National SRH policy guideleines by the Ministry of Health reviewed to ensure it addresses SRH Rights more explicit by end of the project.
The goal was achieved because and an additional policy-National Policy Guidelines for Reproductive and Child Health Services was also reviewed. A total of 926,448 attendances were recorded at SRHR information and dialogue sessions.
“Attendances by men slightly outnumbered attendances by women (54 percent of men as against 46 respectively,” the report says.
Attendances by young people outnumbered those by older people which were 57 percent as compared to 43 that of women.
In 2011 there were 85 attendances for STI services which according to the project data is a 48 percent increase on 2010. O the number, 64 percent of clients for these services are women and the largest number of the users are women over the age of 25.
As for family planning there was a major increase in attendances.
There were for example 76,914 attendances in 2011 almost tow times as much as 2010 attendances.
The majority of clients, according to the data are women (75 females and 15 men).