“Among government targets described in its vision is to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates by three quarters of the current level, and that’s exactly what we are doing,” Leonida Kanyuma, a family planning coordinator with the Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA) told the Guardian on Sunday.
She called upon the government to bring back the program, as reducing infant and maternal mortality can only be realised through effective implementation of family planning strategies.
James Mlali, the technical manager for advance family planning (AFP) in TAMWA said the decision is yet to have an impact on the NGO as the government’s message is still not clear to donor agencies they work with.
AFP is being implemented by the Tanzania Communication and Development Center (TCDC) under the country office of the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. The manager said the message does not directly mean that the programs will no longer exist in the country.
However, he admitted that donors and other partners were in dilemma regarding the government notice.
“Family planning stakeholders believe that the suspension will not exist for long, and that our programs was part of implementing the government’s Vision 2025 target which aims at achieving quality livelihood,” he said.
Mlali said they were shocked by the government decision but they still hope for good from ministerial authorities.
Early this week, the government suspended broadcasting of family planning advertisements by a U.S.-funded project.
The letter written by a senior official in the Ministry of Health asked the head of FHI 360, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, to immediately stop airing advertisements under a project called Tulonge Afya (Let’s speak health).
“The ministry intends to revise the contents of all your ongoing radio and TV spots for family planning. Thus I request you to stop with immediate effect airing and publishing any family planning contents in any media channels until further notice,” the letter issued by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children and signed by its permanent secretary Dr Mpoki Ulisubisya said.
Early this month, President John Magufuli told women in Simiyu region to ignore advice of family planning advocates telling them to give birth only if they have enough food to feed their children.