Broadening TCI’s Impact in Tanga, Tanzania, to Provide Youth-Friendly Services

by | Nov 8, 2019

Asha (in white) talking to youths in her community about child spacing at the invitation of a youth group.

Asha Hanafi Ally is a nurse who attended an orientation for health care providers in Tanga City, Tanzania, on counseling adolescents and youths seeking reproductive health services at public facilities. The Challenge Initiative (TCI) – locally implemented as Tupange Pamoja (loosely translated “let us plan together”) – has been training providers there on how to use TCI’s evidence-based interventions to increase contraceptive services among men and women of reproductive age.

Asha works in the Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health Section (RMCH), a facility that is not supported by TCI, where she meets young girls (10- to 18-years old) coming for services. Her experience is a good example of how TCI’s approaches can diffuse beyond the facilities directly supported by TCI.

You may not know it, but this program has empowered me a great deal in notable ways. But, key among them was the training on provision of youth-friendly services given to me. Prior to the training, we had many youths asking us information about contraceptives, but I had no knowledge of providing services to them.

I have always wanted to be able to help young girls coming to the facility but I did not know how. I met a young girl of 13 years, crying helpless with a child on her hands. Based on the orientation given to me, I calmed her down and talked to her about safe birth spacing. She was happy and came back with her mother to learn more about contraception. I am happy for Tupange Pamoja for training some of our facility in-charges who have trained us also even though we are not in the program.”

Asha Hanafi Ally

Asha said she and her colleagues go to the communities on a regular basis to speak to parents and young girls about reproductive health. Through community dialogues, they have been able to address various health concerns related to contraception services and young people. The youth have their own social groups and invite Asha to talk to them.

We have to be more accessible to them [adolescents and youth] – if we want to improve the services we offer them. When we interact with them, we help them make informed voluntary choice. For years, I have worked as a nurse, but I never thought I could learn from peers and do the same in my facility. Why should I deny my community and remain attending to young pregnant girls yet we have a solution to our problems?”

Asha’s facility is one that has adapted two TCI proven approaches — youth-friendly fixed day static services (also referred to as Special FP Days) and community dialogues — to reach out to youth. According to Mary Joseph, TCI’s focal person for Tanga City, Asha’s facility mobilized its own resources to strengthen the capacity of providers to deliver youth-friendly services. Since Asha’s training, more than 100 adolescents have received contraceptive services at the facility, of whom about 65 have taken up a modern family planning method.