Friday, July 13, 2012


Right Honorable David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom;
Excellencies Heads of State;
First Lady of Burkina Faso;
Madam Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation;
Distinguished delegates;
Ladies and Gentlemen;


I sincerely thank you Mr. Prime Minister and Madam Melinda Gates for associating me with this important Summit on Family Planning. I commend Her Majesty’s Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for conceiving the idea of convening this Summit and for organizing it so well. I also, like to acknowledge the UNFPA and other partners for supporting the preparations of the Summit.

The experience of Tanzania

Ladies and Gentlemen;
Improving the health of women and children is a major policy objective of the Government of Tanzania. As a result a number of measures have been put in place and interventions made in this regard. We have been compelled to do so because we are faced with maternal and child mortality rates that are quite high despite the efforts and successes being made. Maternal mortality is at 454 per 100,000 live births and under five mortality rate is 81 per 1,000 live birth.

Ladies and Gentlemen;
We have adopted two pronged approaches in efforts to tackle the twin challenges. Firstly, we have dedicated our efforts and a substantial proportion of our budgetary resources towards improving antenatal and postnatal care to pregnant women in order to make pregnancy safe for Tanzanian women. In the same vein, we have been taking measures to improve availability of requisite services to children under five years of age to ensure their survival and give them the chance to grow into healthy and productive adults.

Secondly, we have been promoting family planning as part of the national reproductive health strategy. Among important benefits of family planning is the fact that 20 – 35 percent of maternal deaths could be avoided through prevention of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. Also, mothers and children can become healthier and families can better provide for the care and upbringing of their children. Girls will not be forced to drop out of school because of unwanted pregnancies. It is good for the overall growth and development of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen;
Family planning has a long history in Tanzania. It dates back to 1959 when family planning services were first introduced by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The IPPF worked through the local family planning association affiliated to it called UMATI (Chama cha Uzazi na Malezi Bora Tanzania). In 1974 UMATI was allowed to use maternal and child health clinics of government throughout the country for delivery of its services.

In 1989 government policy acknowledged and underscored the importance of family planning in national development. As a result, the first National Family Planning Program was launched as a result. In the new policy development the significance of direct government involvement in family planning matters was underlined. From then on government assumed responsibility over family planning services instead of leaving it entirely in the hands of UMATI. Family planning services were thus integrated in maternal and child health services.

Ladies and Gentlemen;
In 1993, the government launched the Green Star Campaign. The objective of the campaign was to increase awareness on family planning among the people of Tanzania and bolster the implementation of the National Family Planning Program.

When we came into office in 2005, we made improving health care for the people of Tanzania, a major development agenda of our government. In that agenda, reducing maternal and child deaths was given top priority hence the National Roadmap to Accelerate Reduction of Maternal, Newborn and Child Deaths (2008-2015). In the roadmap, family planning has been recognized as a critical component for two reasons. Inadequate birth spacing and multiple pregnancies put women at risk while un-intended pregnancies lead to unsafe abortion. Both of them may cause death.

Progress Made

Ladies and Gentlemen;
When we look back through the tunnel of history of family planning in Tanzania, since 1959 todate, we realize that some progress has been made. When the government assumed responsibility for family planning in 1989, UMATI had succeeded to raise contraceptive prevalence rate to 5 percent from nothing. Efforts deployed thereafter have enabled the prevalence rate to reach 27.4 percent.

This is far too low, but we are committed and determined to do better in the coming years. We have set ourselves a target of getting to 60 percent contraceptive prevalence coverage by 2015. This means increasing the number of women under contraceptives from 2.4 million in 2010 to 6.6 million in 2015. This goal may look too ambitious but I am confident that it is doable. Two things give me the confidence to say that: The women who need contraceptive are many and we have not met their needs. The unmet needs stand at a high 25 percent. The 5.4 fertility rate is still very high which indicates the opportunity that is available for scaling up.

Way Forward

Ladies and Gentlemen;
What is required of us is to ensure that the National Family Planning Costed Implementation Program (2010 – 2015) is implemented fully. Its strategic areas include: ensuring contraceptive security, capacity building, advocacy and demand creation, service delivery systems as well as management, monitoring and evaluation. It has been estimated that US dollar 88.2 million will be required between 2010 and 2015 to meet the contraceptive commodities and supply costs.

Fortunately, we in government already have, a family planning budget line for commodities. It is also benefitting from contribution by health basket partners, USAID, DFID and Australia AID. We, therefore look forward with great anticipation to the outcome of this Summit. We would like to see the financing gap closed so that we can provide the targeted 4.2 million women with the contraceptives they need.

Ladies and Gentlemen;
Allow me to use this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to all our development partners both state and non-state actors for the generous support extended to us on family planning matters over the many years. It has made a huge difference and it accounts for the achievements made so far. Modest as they may appear, but we would be worse-off today without that support.
Let me give one example to illustrate what I am saying. Between 1994 and 2001, DFID funded the Mbeya Family Health Project which helped increase the demand for and availability of contraceptives. At the start of the project the region had contraceptive prevalence rate of 8 percent and, in 2010 prevalence rate had increased to 37 percent. Thanks to DFID the prevalence is now 10 percent above the national average.

Ladies and Gentlemen;
In summary the main challenges that face family planning in Tanzania are:
(a) Lack of adequate resources to meet the requirements for contraceptive commodities, equipment and supplies;
(b) Social inhibitions including religious and culture which can be overcome through education and sensitization; and
(c) Unmet needs of modern contraceptives for young girls and adolescents which contributes to high fertility, unintended pregnancies and complications at birth.


Ladies and Gentlemen;
Indeed, through working together as we have been doing has proved beneficial and successful. Let us continue to work together now and in future to overcome the major challenges of family planning in my country and other developing countries.

Together we can provide the largest population of young people with the choices they need to shape a bright future for themselves and their countries. I know we can make such a difference. Let us do it and save many innocent lives!

Thank you

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