In Sumbawanga District, Tanzania, health facilities are stocking their shelves with contraceptives once again. Following an outcry of women’s voices demanding for family planning (FP) services, decision-makers acted to prioritize family planning products – allocating 1.5 percent of its 2021 district health budget to family planning, following years of no or little investment.
When we asked women in Tanzania about their reproductive and maternal health needs, one demand rose to the top – greater access to medicines and supplies, including family planning. This demand was echoed by women at a citizen hearing in Sumbawanga District, where women spoke out about limited or unavailable contraceptive options. To further complicate matters, providers lacked basic supplies like gloves necessary to administer injectable contraception safely, putting the onus on women to procure gloves.
To answer women’s call for contraception, What Women Want advocates organized additional citizen hearings, meetings with health facility governing bodies, and visits to the council health management team, where women were invited to share their stories first-hand. Advocates also conducted a budget analysis that revealed Sumbawanga District was one of 10 districts nationwide that did not include FP services in its healthcare budget in the most recent fiscal year, with miniscule allocations in prior years.
Spurred by women’s voices, officials took action and reinstituted funding for family planning. Today, women in Sumbawanga District are now reporting that they can obtain the FP supplies they need at their local health centers.