France lunches 1.6bn/- project to improve reproductive health

THE French Embassy in Tanzania has launched a new cooperation project dubbed ‘Tanzafya’ worth around 1.6bn/-, aiming to improve and strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of 13,800 adolescents and youths in the country.

Speaking during the project launch in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, Ambassador of France in Tanzania, Nabil Hajlaoui said the project will be implemented targeting adolescent and young people aged 10-24 years in the Dodoma Region.

While statistics indicate that the prevalence rate for teenage pregnancy rate in the country stands at 22 percent, the prevalence rate in   Dodoma stands at 23 percent.

He disclosed that the two-year project is expected to contribute to the reduction of morbidity and mortality related to sexual and reproductive health among the group.

“This region was selected due to the high prevalence of gender-based violence and its needs in terms of health provision and services,” said Ambassador Hajlaoui, indicating that reduction of gender-based inequalities with regards to access to health care and promotion of women’s rights over their body is a major objective of the programme.

He extended recognition to President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s bold commitment to advocate for women and girl’s health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender inequality reduction and their education in general.

According to him, President Samia’s move to re-allocate funds for Independence Day celebrations last year for construction of schools reflects her true commitment to support the group.

Ambassador Hajlaoui indicated that the project will be implemented by three civil society organisations, including French -led Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde), a non-profit organisation responsible for raising awareness on SRHR (UMATI) and the Doris Mollel Foundation (DMF) who will work in collaboration with different ministries.

The Head of Maternal, New Born Health and Adolescents Sexual and Reproductive Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr Felix Bundala revealed that the number of youths in Tanzania accounted for 20 million of the population, which is a big number, insisting that the society has an obligation to protect them and ensure they obtain right information to make informed decisions in their lives.

“As a country we are implementing the National Accelerated Investment Agenda for Adolescent Health and Wellbeing. (NAIA_AHW) through this mechanism youth acquire knowledge on SHRH, nutrition, GBV, keeping girls and boys in school, economic empowerment and mental health which are crucial,” he said.

Dr Bundala welcomed the efforts to support the government endeavor, calling upon the embassy to roll out the programme in other regions to ensure majority of the youths and adolescent are reached across the country.

Executive Director Tanzanian office, Mr Ivan Duran said that the project has been designed by using innovative approaches whereby they will collaborate with youths and adolescents to produce films, organize SRHR weeks in different parts of Dodoma, among other initiatives.

“We want to institutionalise youth weekend clinics in  health centres in Dodoma… we are trying to be innovative in this  pilot stage because we will later see if we can replicate and scale up the project in other regions later,” noted.

For her part, Executive Director of UMATI, Ms Suzana Mkanzabi noted that Dodoma is currently a fast growing city, indicating that the rate of teenage pregnancy that now stands at 23 percent is alarming.

“This is why we have decided to act fast in ensuring youths are aware of their sexual reproductive health and rights by providing quality information through concerted efforts,” stated Ms Mkanzabi.

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