BREAKING NEWS: Civil society recommendations integrated into Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Bill 2017

The East African Legislative Assembly committee recently conducted public hearings on the East African Community (EAC) Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Bill 2017 in its five member countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda). The committee, which held public hearings for Tanzania on Feb 22nd in Dar es Salaam, agreed to integrate recommendations on various sections of the bill from the recently-established Tanzania Youth and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (TAYARH) Coalition and Advance Family Planning (AFP) local partners.

The proposals included: a definition of youth to be those from age 15-24 as adopted by the United Nations; a clause on partnership to show the various stakeholders responsible for the implementation of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues in the East African Community countries; and a clause on an accountability mechanism to ensure that countries deliver on law implementation.

AFP Tanzania and the TAYARH coalition proposed text to strengthen clauses on adolescents and youth-friendly reproductive health services by expounding on what these services entail. Other clauses included providing age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health education in school curriculum and legislation against harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation.

The Bill will be tabled in mid-March at the East African Legislative Assembly after which it will be submitted to the five East African presidents for assenting into law.

The SRHR Bill can be accessed here.

About the EAC
The East African Community (EAC) is the regional intergovernmental organization of the Republics of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Burundi, and Republic of Rwanda with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. It aims to deepen economic, political, and social cooperation among the partner states.

Parliamentarians vow to support family planning

In marking the International Women’s Day this month, the Tanzania Parliamentary Association on Population and Development (TPAPD) proclaimed its commitment to make family planning a priority development agenda at all forums.

The legislators expressed concern over the current high population growth of 2.7 per cent per annum, and a slow growth in contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) of 32%. TPAPD issued the Declaration of Commitment during its executive committee meeting held in Dar es Salaam recently to discuss family planning and development.

In the Declaration, that TPAPD Chairperson Hon Dr. Mary Mwanjelwa signed, the association committed to prioritize family planning issues in parliament, at constituency, council and community level forums, and at all events to enhance public and leadership understanding of the benefits of family planning on health and socio-economic development.

TPAPD noted with concern the country’s high fertility rate of 5.2 children per woman in reproductive age, a slow growing CPR, and an increasing teenage pregnancy rate of 27% (2015) from 23% contraceptive prevalence rate of 32%, and re-affirmed its dedication towards realizing universal access to voluntary quality family planning information and services in Tanzania.

Family planning is a pre-requisite to enabling the country to manage high fertility that often generates high dependency and accentuates poverty, further frustrating the country’s efforts to achieve its Vision 2025 Goal of a high-quality livelihood for the people, and a strong and competitive economy.

About 65 percent of the country’s population is under the age of 25, and adolescents and youth had little or no access to information, contraceptives, and services, hence exposing them to risks associated with poor reproductive health status. TPAPD stressed that young people ought to be empowered with information and services to enable them to make informed decisions on reproductive health issues including family planning.

Tanzania Health and Demographic Survey (2015-16) says that increased use of family planning has the potential of about 44% to contribute towards lowering the country’s high maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 556 per 100,000 live births and attaining the target of 293 MMR by 2020; as well in reducing child deaths by about 35%.

TPAPD acknowledged the progress made thus far to advance family planning by placing it at the core of the RMNCAH also known as One Plan II, and acknowledge the government’s sustained efforts in the provision of quality family planning services in an integrated manner, as well as the budgetary allocations being made both at national and at council level.

TPAPD, Dr. Mwanjelwa said, shall continue to catalyze the process and build on the current achievements so that family planning becomes a critical agenda in development planning.

An electronic copy of the TPAPD Declaration of Commitment (2017) is available here.