Arumeru. Following challenges of family planning in Arumeru District in Arusha Region, the district authorities have come up with initiatives aimed at making women aware of its importance to health and family development.
Arusha District Council, Reproductive and Child Health Care Coordinator Butolwa Bujiku told The Citizen that, they had several family planning clinics in the district, but Maasai women were reluctant to practice family planning due to the fact that it was new to their culture and it was believed to cause sterility and cancer.
She said in 2013, family planning uptake was 27 per cent and had increased to 40 per cent this year. This is despite Tanzania fertility rate still being high as population is growing at a rate of 2.7 per cent per annum. Tanzania has several methods of contraceptives, including condoms, pills, female sterilisation, vasectomy, injectable, implants and IUDs.
Family planning benefits the health and well-being of women and men, children, families and communities and is a key component of sexual and reproductive health services.
Effective, timely contraception and birth spacing has far reaching benefits for individuals, families, villages, their environments and livelihoods services.
“We have now come up with reproductive and child care services and we educate women on the importance of family planning services,” she said.
According to her, they educate women in labour wards, paediatric wards and clinics to ensure they understand and start using the services.
Explaining, she said there were beliefs that women, who used contraceptives ended up being sterile and were at risk of getting cancer and could give birth to deformed children
She noted that, the district council had, therefore, come up with programmes that involved holding meetings with traditional Maasai leaders known as Laigwanani and religious leaders to make them aware of importance of family planning.
A 150-cell leader Ilkurot village, Mr Issack Kivuyo said despite various awareness programmes, Maasai community uptake was still slow due to ignorance and cultural beliefs.
For her part, Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender,
Elderly and Children Director of Child Development Margret Mussai said it had been difficult to reach the Maasai community, as the majority of them were pastoralists and moved from place to place. She said the government had come up with initiatives that aimed at empowering women since an empowered woman meant an empowered household economically.