Empowering Women to Achieve Their Reproductive Health Goals in Mwanza Region, Tanzania
Contributors: Msira Mageni
Bora Pwagu is a 37-year-old widow who lives in Muriti Village on the Lake Victoria Island of Ukerewe, in Mwanza, Tanzania. As a single mother now to seven children, she is often overwhelmed taking care of them so decided she wanted no more children.
She tried various short-term family planning methods over the years, but used them inconsistently since she couldn’t always obtain her next dose when she needed it and experienced annoying side effects too. Due to her busy schedule running a small business to earn a living for her children, she had given up on using any family planning method, putting her at risk for unwanted pregnancy.
Then, one day, Bora heard family planning messages through a local sensitization campaign in her village. She recalls:
I remember hearing an advertisement to attend the health center for family planning and other services which will be provided on that same day. So, I decide that I should go and hear more about family planning methods and maybe I could learn about other, better methods since I don’t want to have any more children. Before that day, I used injections and various types of pills a couple of times but not consistently, which always resulted in side effects.”
The Challenge Initiative (TCI) – locally referred to as Tupange Pamoja – supports Muriti Village in Ukerewe District Council, a peri-urban geography in Mwanza Region, in implementing high-impact interventions, such as family planning in-reaches and outreaches that bring family planning and other reproductive health services and education to the community.
Bora quickly rushed to attend the family planning in-reach at the Muriti health facility where she was counseled on various methods, including long-acting reversible and permanent methods. She shared:
During the initial health education, I was able to learn in detail various family planning methods which were being provided at the health facility. After being counseled by the health provider, I made a decision to go for sterilization as a widow and a mother of seven children. No one forced me to go for that; it was my own choice. I had used other family planning methods before which resulted in unpleasant side effects and it was about time to make a more sustainable decision. As a single mother with seven children, ranging from my eldest son who is 14 years-old to my youngest daughter who is one, I believe it’s good to have a limited number of children to provide for them better care. I think this health information [on family planning] is vital for everyone to live and enjoy a happy and healthy life.”
Access to informed choice family planning counseling and services offered by a well-trained service provider is essential in helping women like Bora achieve their reproductive health goals and, in turn, the goals that they have for their families. As a TCI-supported facility, Muriti health facility can provide assured quality family planning services to all clients based on the full basket of method options. Through TCI’s interventions, such as in-reaches, staff have been trained and provided the supportive supervision they require to confidently and skillfully provide long-acting reversible and permanent methods.
As a result of TCI support, women across TCI-supported health facilities in Mwanza are informed and empowered to make the best decisions for themselves in achieving their reproductive health goals.