The Tanzania Parliamentary Association on Population and Development (TPAPD) marked the end of the country’s five-year parliamentary term on June 11, 2020, with the launch of two milestones: Promote, Prioritize and Invest in Family Planning during COVID-19: A Call to Action and the TPAPD Roadmap: Promote Impactful Change in People’s Lives (2020-2025). The documents call on government leaders and other stakeholders to ensure that family planning services remain essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also lay the foundation for incoming parliamentarians to strengthen family planning services over the next five years.
During a media roundtable held in Dodoma to launch the documents, TPAPD Chairperson Hon. Jamal Ali underscored the need for increased advocacy to ensure family planning services are prioritized. He also urged outgoing members of parliament to continue with efforts to promote family planning.
The call to action underscores, among other issues, the urgent need for the government to:
- optimize opportunities for integration of family planning and maternal health services such as antenatal, immediate postpartum, and post-abortion care and immunization within the COVID-19 response;
- designate community health workers (CHWs) already deployed across the country as essential workers to enhance family planning services and broaden public knowledge on COVID-19 as part of ongoing preventive measures;
- increase and maintain resources for family planning programs while strengthening transparency and accountability to manage COVID-19 public funds; and
- ensure contraceptive supplies are delivered to the last mile across the country, while engaging adolescents and youth meaningfully to advocate for the inclusion of their specific and diverse needs during the pandemic as well as in family planning services.
The call to action also draws attention to reports of gender-based violence and teenage pregnancies during lockdown and calls on the government to ensure family planning services remain available to women and girls at all times.
While the call to action sets priorities in the near term, TPAPD’s roadmap looks ahead. It outlines efforts needed to attain national and global family planning goals by 2025 and beyond based on four priority areas: policy dialogue and advocacy, capacity strengthening, partnership building and networking, and enhancing accountability.
Established in 1994, TPAPD provides a platform for legislators to hold government accountable for implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action, and advocate for the formulation of legislation designed to meet the country’s population and development objectives, especially for universal health coverage and reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH).
AFP began collaborating with TPAPD on family planning and demographic dividend issues in 2017. Due to its broad membership base across all parliamentary standing committees and political parties, TPAPD secured the support of key parliamentarians led by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Job Ndugai, and Speaker of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, Hon. Zubeir Ali Maulid. The support helped in obtaining family planning budget increases and with implementation of the special provision on fast-tracking lifesaving health commodities, including contraceptives, in the Public Procurement Act (2016).
The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Advance Family Planning’s lead partner in Tanzania, provided technical support to TPAPD in developing the two documents. As a next step, AFP partners are working closely with the TPAPD Secretariat to reach out to TPAPD members who have been nominated to vie for parliamentary seats in their respective political parties. In addition, through its media advocacy efforts, AFP continues to highlight family planning when engaging political contestants in advance of the general elections set for October 25th.