Dar es Salaam. Ten youth-led organizations in Tanzania and Zanzibar have committed themselves to work under a united front to promote reproductive health and advocate the access to contraceptive services to the youth in the country.
They have formed the Tanzania Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health (TAYAHR) which is expected to focus on policy advocacy, youth engagement and service delivery. They also aim at ensuring increased investment in family planning programs.
Speaking on Tuesday in Dar es Salaam during the event to sign the Memorandum of Understanding, the TAYARH Chairperson William Otuck expressed his concern over the growing trend of teenage childbearing rates in the country.
Currently, figures on teenage child bearing rates stand at 27 per cent of 15-19 year-old girls, low use of contraceptive at 13 per cent among adolescents, and inadequate knowledge among adolescent and the youth, said Mr Otuck.
‘Over one-quarter of young women aged 15 to 19 have begun childbearing in Tanzania, and this situation is worse in Katavi Region with almost 45 per cent rate and Tabora Region – 42 per cent,’’ he said.
This means a substantial number of girls discontinue their education and enter a vicious cycle of poverty, while again the young mothers constitute the majority of those who die from pregnancy complications and delivery,” Mr Otuck noted.
According to the Demographic and Health Survey data, only 10 per cent of teenage girls with at least a secondary education have begun childbearing compared to 34 per cent of girls with primary education, and 52 percent of girls with no education.
“This cannot be allowed to continue,” remarked Mr Otuck.
The Coalition’s advocacy drive is anchored on a number of interventions namely engaging policy makers to invest in expanding contraceptive use to meet the unmet need.
The organizations came together in October and November last year through collaboration between FP2020 Secretariat, Advance Family Planning (AFP) project in Tanzania, and Torchlight Collectives, an organization based in Seattle.
TAYARH founding organizations are Hope Centre for Children, Girls and women in Tanzania, YAM-UMATI, AfriYAN, TYVA, SAYI, Restless Development, Zanzibar Youth Forum (ZAFAYCO), IYAFP/ Young and Alive Initiative (YAAI), SHDEPHA+, and YUNA.