News

Choice not chance: Strengthening the reproductive health supply chain in Zanzibar

18 June 2019
Strengthening supply chains to meet the demand for contraceptives and reproductive health supplies

The United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA) Supplies Programme is dedicated to expanding access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) supplies, including voluntary family planning and life-saving maternal health commodities. These supplies have the power to change lives – and to save them. Quality contraceptives, for example, empower couples to plan their families; basic, inexpensive medications keep women from bleeding to death during childbirth; and condoms protect people from HIV and sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies.

UNFPA Supplies is pivotal to the achievement of the goal that the international community set in 2012 at the London Summit on Family Planning (FP2020); to accelerate progress on the promise made at Cairo 25 years ago at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD); and to deliver on two of the three transformative results that UNFPA has pledged to achieve globally by 2030 – ending the unmet need for family planning and preventable maternal mortality.

Twenty-five years on from the ICPD there are still millions of women and girls who are not able to exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), too many are being left behind. The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar (RGoZ) is committed to reducing  a maternal mortality ratio of 307 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.  A significant decline in preventable maternal mortality could be achieved if women had access to life-saving maternal health medicines and the choice to decide on the timing and spacing of their pregnancies. In Kaskazini Pemba 37 per cent of married women want to use contraceptives but cannot access them, highlighting the importance of functioning systems that ensure contraceptives – and maternal health medicines – reach the women who need them when they need them.

In Zanzibar, UNFPA Tanzania, through the Supplies Programme, is providing targeted support to government and non-governmental organizations to strengthen and operationalize reproductive health (RH) logistics management systems so that there is a predictable, planned and sustainable approach to securing and supplying RH commodities. In June 2019, UNFPA supported capacity-building training on logistics management for 25 service providers in Zanzibar. In addition to learning about the forecasting and quantification of RH supplies, service providers were oriented on supply chain tools including the maturity model and baseline costing. This will improve supply chain visibility – tracking RH commodities from the manufacturer to their final destination – as well as transparency over the availability of products at the last mile.

Robust and fully-functioning RH logistics management systems are central to the delivery of universal access to SRHR. UNFPA Tanzania will continue to support the RGoZ to accelerate efforts to secure universal access to SRHR, including voluntary family planning, for the women of Zanzibar and to deliver on the promise made at Cairo 25 years ago where 179 governments agreed that putting people first, empowering women, and enabling people to freely decide the timing and spacing of their pregnancies would clear the way to sustainable development.

1. Population and Housing Census 2012.

2. Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey.