Tanzania: Country’s Adolescent Fertility Much Higher Than Global Rates

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Dar es Salaam — As the world marked Contraception Day yesterday, data shows that Tanzania’s adolescent fertility rate (135 births per 1,000 girls) is more than double the global birth rate among 15 to 19 year olds (49 births per 1,000 girls).

According to the press release issued yesterday by the Comprehensive Community-Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT), despite CCBRT efforts, there appears to be a gap in tackling the specific reproductive health needs of adolescents.

CCBRT offers family planning services ranging from short-acting (like use of condoms, birth pills) to long-acting contraception methods (like sterilisation), as well as wider sexual and reproductive health services such as pregnancy tests, cervical cancer screenings, emergency contraception, advice on natural family planning and fertile days.

The press statement quoted Technical Advisor Nursing Bola Abbas saying, “Only about 8 per cent of current family planning clients are between the ages of 15 to 19 years. And this is not a challenge unique to CCBRT, on a national scale, demand for family planning among adolescent girls is still very low, at 21 per cent. Two-thirds of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 years are not using contraception.”

Ms Abbas said, CCBRT started a Dar es Salaam facility at Tim’s Corner in 2013 to address the unmet needs and create demand for family planning services in Dar es Salaam, particularly in Kinondoni District and focused on making Tim’s Corner more accessible to adolescent clients.

In future, family planning services will be integrated into the comprehensive and specialized care of the Maternity & Newborn Hospital, catered to high-risk patient groups such as mothers with disabilities, histories of fistula and adolescents, reads part of the press statement.

Since its inception in 2013, Tim’s Corner has provided services to more than 1,600 clients. It has a diverse client base, including patients from the Disability Hospital and their caretakers (48 per cent), CCBRT staff (9 per cent), as well inhabitants of the neighbouring Kinondoni district and beyond (43 per cent). These services are available to all and offered for free.

Family planning has been widely recognised as a key strategy to improve health and overall well-being of women and families around the world. Investment in family planning is a best buy for development.