Government lifts ban on family planning ads

Dar es Salaam. The government has lifted the suspension of family planning advertisements imposed last September.

The Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children has written to all heads of 18 institutions responsible for family planning in Tanzania, directing them to resume radio and television advertisements.

The Chief Medical Officer, Prof Muhammad Kambi, confirmed to The Citizen by telephone that permission to resume airing of the advertisements had been granted.

However, the government has formulated new guidelines on health communication.

Prof Kambi said organisations developing health messages on family planning will have to adhere to the new rules, which include submitting content to the ministry’s permanent secretary for review.

Messages on family planning will also have to acknowledge the government by attaching its logo and mentioning the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children.

“These guidelines are meant to ensure that the right message reaches the people. The aim here is to help people make informed decisions on the size of family that they want.

“The messages that will be aired from now on should not be about limiting the population size. It should be about enabling people to decide on their own about the size of the families they are able to take care of,’’ Prof Kambi said.

The advertisements were suspended last year, with the government saying it wanted to review the messages.

The ban came a few weeks after President John Magufuli said during a tour of the Lake Zone that those who embraced family planning were “lazy”.

He said those who use contraception do not want to work hard and were trying to avoid the responsibility of feeding their children. He urged women in Tanzania to continue reproducing because the country needs more people.

The President spoke in the presence of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative in Tanzania Jacqueline Mahon and Health minister Ummy Mwalimu.