DAR ES SALAAM: HEALTH stakeholders in some parts of the country, especially rural areas have expressed their gratitude towards the government for a project which has benefited young girls and women.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam on Friday, they said that implementation of Wish To Action project which concluded last year after a five-year period has helped to curb early pregnancies and boosting family planning campaigns across the country, pleading for extension of time so that many more can be reached.
The project to improve health services for women (Wish to Action) officially closed after reaching approximately 3.8 million people in 10 regions in 26 Councils in the country.
The five-year project funded by the British Government started in September 2018 and completed in September 2023, and was implemented in collaboration with Marie Stopes Tanzania and Chama cha Uzazi na Malezi Bora Tanzania (UMATI) in collaboration with other partners including the government.
Speaking at a ceremony to officially close the activities of the project, the UMATI Executive Director, Suzana Mkanzabi said that the project was started with the aim of spreading integrated services, especially for young people from the age of 20 across the country.
“The main goal was to increase the use of modern contraception to reduce the problems of unexpected pregnancies and deaths. Studies show that the use of contraception reduces deaths from maternal health by 30 per cent,” she explained.
Due to ongoing campaigns, statistics show success in the area of maternal health-related deaths from 556 to 104 deaths out of 100,000 live births, while pregnancies at a young age have decreased from 27 to 22 per cent, she said.
She said the Wish To Action project also trained 286 health service providers, 300 community level health service providers, provided medical equipment to 300 health centres for family planning services and 100 counsellors were trained.
In addition, she said that among the 3.8 million people who were reached and given reproductive health care education, 1.4 million young people were between the ages of 20 and 24. Also, 2,459 people with disabilities were given contraceptive education and care.
In terms of the challenges that the project faced, she said the main challenge involved traditions and customs and the negative attitude towards family planning.
“There are people who think that if you start contraception when you are young, you will not have children again, which is not true. This is a very big challenge that was holding us back, but we have tried to educate the community to recognise the benefits of family planning, especially when they are not ready to give birth,” she emphasised.
In addition, she said there is a challenge of service providers who are few and that is why the project increased the knowledge and ability to provide contraceptive services and provide medical equipment.
The Marie Stopes Tanzania Director of Health Services, Dr Geofrey Sigalla, on his part, said that Wish To Action is a one-of-a-kind project that involved competent stakeholders in providing services and also collaborated with the government at all levels to ensure that the intended goals are achieved.
“And major achievements include health services such as family planning, cervical cancer, HIV testing and sexual violence education provided to citizens in 10 regions,” he said.
Director of the Department of Maternal and Child Health, Dr Phineas Sospeter, explained the importance of birth control and emphasised that if implemented properly, it can reduce deaths from childbirth.