The Challenge Initiative is set to begin implementing family planning programs in Tanzania after a successful launch event on Sept. 14 in Dar es Salaam that was held in collaboration with the government of Tanzania – through the Ministry of Health, Community development, Gender, Elderly and Children – and its East Africa implementing partner Jhpiego.

The Initiative is a three-year program based at the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health – based at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health – that is investing in the expansion of innovative, high-impact urban reproductive health services with trusted partners and proven results in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania), Francophone West Africa, Nigeria and India.

“Family planning is one of the agenda items we are focused on if the region is to attain the SDGs,” said the launch guest of honor Dr. Janet Mghamba, Acting Director for Preventive Services (Tanzania), referring to the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She added that the program has come at an opportune time when government is focused on improving the economic conditions of its people.

In Tanzania, the Initiative – branded Tupange Pamoja – will address the reproductive health needs of the urban underserved poor population in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Morogoro, Mwanza and Dodoma to reach additional women and girls with voluntary family planning services.

Addressing the guests during the launch, Jose “Oying” Rimon, Director of the Gates Institute, called upon the governments to invest more in developing family planning initiatives in their respective countries. He said contraceptive use could reduce maternal deaths by 44 percent and infant and child deaths by 38 percent.

“Family planning is one of the best investments that communities and countries can make in their futures,” said Rimon. “Working together, we can create a future with promise for millions of women and children.”

“The Initiative’s ‘Business Unusual’ approach will see local municipals and districts self-select to participate and contribute their own human and financial resources,” said Jhpiego Country Director, Jeremie Zoungrana. “In return, they will gain access to the Initiative’s Challenge Fund, a collection of best practice high-impact family planning solutions and technical expertise to implement those solutions.”

“We are happy that Tanzania has been identified to be part of the Initiative to scale up family planning over the next three to five years and sincerely thank the government of the Republic of Tanzania for their commitment and leadership,” added the East Africa Project Director, Nelson Keyonzo.

TCI’s implementing partner in East Africa is Jhpiego, an international health NGO affiliated with the John Hopkins University.