Drive for contraceptive use to focus on adolescents

02Nov 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Drive for contraceptive use to focus on adolescents

TANZANIA’S contraceptive use, which drives towards achieving the global family planning goal by 2020 (FP 2020), will now focus on adolescents, the government announced yesterday.

UMMY MWALIMU

Speaking at the launch of FP 2020 Progress Report in Dar es Salaam, Minister for Health, Community Development, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu said the high level of pregnancy amongst girls under the age of 18 was a major bottleneck that needed to be dealt with.

According to recent data from the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS) for 2015, 27 out of 100 girls get pregnant before reaching 18, an increase from 23 per cent in the 2010 TDHS.

According to the 2015 TDHS, some 32 per cent of married women were using modern methods of family planning. Mwalimu said Tanzania's overall performance towards FP 2020 was being hampered by the under 18 age group.

"For us to make real progress as a country, our interventions must target this group,” she said.

According to the new report released yesterday, for the first time in history the number of women and girls using modern contraception in the world’s 69 poorest countries has surpassed 300 million—a milestone that has taken the health and development sectors decades to reach.

FP2020 Momentum at the Midpoint 2015-2016 marks the critical halfway point of the FP2020 partnership, launched at the historic London Summit on Family Planning in 2012. The Summit called for unprecedented global political commitments and resources to enable 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020.

The data featured in the report reveal noteworthy accomplishments as well as some significant challenges for the partnership. More than 30 million additional women and girls compared to 2012 now can use contraception across the 69 FP2020 focus countries.

Regionally, there are compelling examples of success. For example, in Eastern and Southern Africa - for the first time ever - more than 30 per cent of women and girls are now using a modern method of contraception.

In West Africa, where contraceptive use has been historically low, the Ouagadougou Partnership has surpassed its goal of reaching 1 million additional women and girls with modern contraception between 2011 and 2015, and is now aiming to reach 2.2 million additional users by 2020.

Despite the significant progress, collectively the FP2020 partnership has not reached as many people as hoped. The data shows efforts are off-track by some 19 million women and girls.

In addition, the sector faces a sizable financing gap for family planning programmes, and significant questions loom around how to ensure that enough contraceptives supplies are available for the unprecedented numbers of women and girls who need them.

Tackling these challenges will require a strategic and coordinated approach moving forward among many stakeholders. The report calls on the family planning community to urgently accelerate progress through investment and interventions grounded in the wealth of data and evidence now available.

“While we have not reached as many people as we had hoped for by this time, the richness of the data now available enables us to peel back the layers and study the situation on a country-by-country basis, revealing a strikingly varied landscape of progress,” said FP2020 executive director Beth Schlachter.

As in previous years, the report also delves into the funding landscape—highlighting how mobilizing the necessary resources to sustain family planning services is a critical component of success and a vital priority for donors and focus countries alike moving forward. Donor governments provided USD1.3 billion for bilateral family planning in 2015– a 6 per cent decrease below the previous years’ funding levels.

This is the first reduction witnessed since the tracking of these efforts began in 2012 by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The decrease can largely be attributed to currency fluctuations and the appreciation of the US dollar.

“Addressing the financing gap for family planning programmes, ensuring a sufficient and diverse supply of contraceptives, and improving the visibility and tracking of domestic and donor funding alike continue to be central priorities for our entire sector, including and importantly through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA ) Supplies Programme,” Schlachter said.