“By 2020 the government is committed to increase its modern contraceptives prevalence’s rate to 45 per cent,” said the Minister of Health, Community development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu
Since 2012, about 800,000 more women of reproductive age are using contraception; the country’s efforts have since prevented more than four million unintended pregnancies and 1.2 million unsafe abortions.
“Today, more than third of married women of reproductive age are using a modern contraceptive method, which experts say is an important step reaching the goal of 45 per cent users by 2020,” the ministry’s data showed.
“We have established centres, which offer youth friendly services all over the country. Currently 39 per cent of the youth aged 10-24 years and 11 percent of adolescents aged 10-19 years are using modern contraceptives.”
According to Mwalimu, the government is committed to increase the family planning budget to 35 per cent by 2020 and ensure at least 75 per cent of districts have institutionalised integrated community health.
The data that was recently published on the website HuruMap, a platform that aggregates publicly-available data, shows that the number of new clients on family planning in each region has increased by 50 per cent in most of the regions.
In an interview Marie Stopes Tanzania director of health systems management, Dr Jeremiah Makula said the number has been increasing because more men have become aware of family planning benefits and a number of men are coming with their spouses in reproductive and child health clinics is increasing.
“It is very encouraging that some men now feel the urge to lessen the burden of birth control that has been carried for decades by women and chose vasectomy as a method of family planning for their families,” he said.
Dr Makula said although the unmet needs in several regions are still high, number of facilities offering family planning services in Tanzania has significant increased, currently there are more than 6000 facilities.
Meanwhile, in Ngulu Mkongea village in Mwanga District, a nurse at Ngulu dispensary said that they offer all family planning services which are accessed by women and the number has been increasing.
She said the dispensary provides short time types of contraceptives once in a while health officers will visit to educate and provide long time family planning.
“While you will see women aged between 35 and 42 seeking permanent contraception, very few women who are at the age 25 to 34 years decide to have procedure because they already have more than five children whose spacing is a year or two,” she said.
The executive director of family planning Association of Tanzania (UMATI) Dr Lugano Daimon also echoed similar arguments adding that Tanzania has made huge strides in delivering family planning.
“We are now moving away from bad customs that its only women who will go for counseling on family planning as these days most men accompany their spouses,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government has increased its budget allocation on family planning to ensure the service is adequately provided in the country.
In fiscal year 2017/2018 the government allocated 14bn/-compared to 5bn/- in the 2015/2016 budget, which is an increase of 180 per cent from the last allocation.
For her part, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative, Dr Hashina Begum said for women to reach their full potential and be more economically productive; they must be able to exercise their right to decide for themselves whether, when or how often, to have children.
Dr Begum also insisted on investment in family planning (FP), saying it offers immense opportunities for women and the numbers speak for themselves, adding that research showed that for every dollar governments invest in FP, up to 6 US dollars can be saved in other development areas, such as poverty reduction, education or disaster preparedness projects.