Despite various government initiatives designed to boost the health sector in the country, there have been challenges affecting the supply of contraceptives at a few health centres, which offer family planning services, especially in rural areas. James Mlali, project implementation manager at the Tanzania Communication and Development Center (TCDC), shared these observations while addressing the media over the weekend.
Mlali said the challenges are due to insufficient budget allocated towards family planning initiatives, something which has contributed to many Tanzanians failing to use family planning adequately, particularly those residing in rural areas. Mlali added that TCDC, together with key family planning stakeholders, has been pushing for a budget increase for the health sector and specifically on family planning in order to push for increased use of modern family planning methods.
“Unless the government sees the importance of family planning, society will always be faced with countless challenges, such as poverty and lack of education for most who live in rural areas. When people lack family planning methods, then there is no proper control of birth. This, according to Mlali, increases the number of dependents within a family. “When you have many dependents in a family, most of the income is used to feed them meaning other areas will not be developed or pursued,” Mlali added.
Since Tanzania gained independence more than five decades ago, most people living in rural areas continue to be affected by poverty to this present day. This is mainly due to the fact that most people in households depend on one person, either the father or mother. In addition, most productive people in rural areas are women and when these women birth and raise children every now and then, without proper of family planning, the household remains trapped in a cycle of poverty. This is the unfortunate predicament facing many rural households that are faced with increasingly more mouths to feed and lower levels of income, which inevitably increases poverty levels of rural families, said Mlali.
He added that for the country to achieve the industrialization drive, it is important for the country to invest heavily on family planning. In addition, the government must also make sure that the increase in population go hand-in-hand with the available resources and economic situation of the country. Mlali further explained this scenario by adding that we can have a high population, but again as a country, are we producing enough to cater to the population? If we look at the example of post-secondary education, are graduates getting employment opportunities after completing school? Mlali asked. This is an important aspect to consider particularly given the close correlation between employment and economic growth.
‘When a country attains a middle economy, it is important for the people to depend on themselves economically.” This is very important and it is precisely where our country should focus on, Mlali concluded.