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This year’s World Population Day focused attention on the urgency and importance of population issues with the theme: “Family Planning is a Human Right.”  The concept of family planning as a human right is important;  it counters any misperceptions that it is a form of population control and will ensure that future generations never take this hard-won human right for granted.

In the run-up to the main event in Zanzibar Town, a one-day Youth Symposium was held, family planning outreach activities were conducted for two days, and the media were orientated on family planning. Around 300 people came together on 11th July, 2018 in  Zanzibar Town to celebrate World Population Day including UNFPA, Senior Government Officials, development partners, civil society organizations, and young people.
In her remarks, Harusi Said Suleiman, the Deputy Minister of Health, Zanzibar, said that the contraceptive prevalence rate on Zanzibar is 14 per cent with a high unmet need of 28 per cent. More effort is needed to reach the planned goal of 20 per cent by 2020. This coverage, however, is still low compared to the 32 per cent contraceptive prevalence rate on the Tanzania mainland.

She added that the situation in South Pemba Region is even more dire where the contraceptive prevalence rate is 7 per cent, compared with the Southern Region of Zanzibar that has the highest rate of the islands at 29 per cent.

Ambassador Amina Salum, Minister of Trade and Industry in Zanzibar, speaking on behalf of the second Vice President of Zanzibar Hon. Ambassador, Seif Ali Idd., emphasized that access to contraception is a right that should be enjoyed by all. “Family planning contributes to reducing maternal mortality and ensures that mothers and their newborns are healthy. Men, who are often the key decision-makers in communities, must be included in all family planning programmes so that they are aware of the benefits of contraception.”

She continued: "Men have been a barrier to reaching national goals because they are reluctant to let their wives use family planning methods and even threaten divorce." She argued that if family planning education reached more men then the strategic plan to reduce maternal and infant mortality would be significantly more successful.

Emphasizing the cost benefits of family planning, Ms. Jacqueline Mahon, UNFPA Country Representative, Tanzania, said: “For each dollar spent on family planning the government can save up to $US6, making voluntary family planning one of the most cost-effective investments available. When women and young people are able to choose if, when and how often to have children, more girls can stay in school and more women can decide to enter or remain in the workforce; ultimately entire families, communities and countries thrive.”

UNFPA has advocated for an increase in national investments in family planning services and broader sexual and reproductive health services, including the availability of family planning commodities, while supporting efforts to expand the coverage of facilities providing modern methods of contraception and to enhance the quality of services. Ms. Jacqueline Mahon emphasized that UNFPA’s focus, among others, is to expand access to information and services for young people and other vulnerable groups. She continued: “Achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030 is dependent on how much the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and young people are realized. The fulfilment of their family planning needs is one of the most profitable investments.”

Dr. Ali Omar Ali, Integrated Reproductive and Child Health Manager, Ministry of Health, said that family planning is the right of all human beings and it is essential that quality sexual and reproductive health services are available and accessible.

Concluding, Sk. Abdullah Talib, a religious leader and Executive Secretary to the Mufti of Zanzibar, stated that family planning is acceptable in Islam and allows families to create a better economic, political, cultural and health-related environment for themselves as well as to provide a better education for their children. He called upon the community to stick to religious facts/teachings and not to listen to myths and misconception.