Young people in Tanzania face multiple health and social challenges, many of which are interlinked. In rural parts of Tanzania such as Mtwara district, young people, particularly girls, have limited access to appropriate, quality health care services. In particular, sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information and services are difficult to access.
As a result there is a high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and HIV amongst young people. Data on abortions is largely unknown, as abortion is illegal in Tanzania, but that which is available suggests that young women are more likely to undergo unsafe abortions and do not have access to post-abortion care.
Despite the Tanzanian government’s policies, which recognise the right of children to universal primary education, a disproportionate number of girls do not complete primary education. The major obstacles to girls accessing education in Tanzania are child labour, prostitution, poverty, and the fact that girls who fall pregnant are often expelled from school.
AMREF’s project aims to empower young women and girls in Mtwara. We will:
- Reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancy and the maternal mortality rate in girls aged 10-18yrs in Mtwara
- Increase access for teenage girls and boys to sexual and reproductive health information and services
- Strengthen the capability of health centres to deliver youth friendly services
- Train community peer educators to raise awareness of the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Key achievements so far:
- Elders are now working with AMREF to ensure messages about sexual health in initiation ceremonies are appropriate
- 17 health facilities have started providing youth friendly services
- Advocacy initiatives have resulted in the education department ensuring that adolescent SRH is integrated into school curriculum.
- Due to the success of the project, some regions are now setting laws which protect young girls (prosecuting men who impregnate under-age girls.)