Marie Stopes Tanzania nurses are using two auto-rickshaws in an ambitious attempt to give more women in Zanzibar access to family planning services.
In the Tanzanian island’s predominantly Muslim culture, highly conservative attitudes towards modern forms of contraception mean women are often denied family planning advice.
On average, women in Zanzibar will have five children in a lifetime, with contraception rates
as low as 7.4% among married women in some areas.
But the rickshaws are changing this. The two nurses trained to use them
will offer family planning counselling and long term family planning treatment including implants and intrauterine devices at dispensaries, community
centres and in women’s homes.
The goal is to give 40% of women of reproductive age access to family planning advice.
The nurses – Zawadi Mchulila and Jane Mkeleja – can travel as far as 60km from Stonetown, the Zanzibar capital, on the Marie Stopes Tanzania rickshaws, and it is hoped that between them they will deliver more than 880 intrauterine devices (IUDs) and 2,200 implants each year.
In addition sterilisation surgery will be offered to both sexes at the Marie Stopes Tanzania centre in Stonetown.
Justine Coulson, Country Director for Tanzania explained how the rickshaws, which are part-funded by the Marie Stopes International SCALE project, are targeted. She said:
“Marie Stopes International is launching its mobile family planning service to support the government of Zanzibar in its efforts to increase family planning uptake in
those areas where women are struggling to access the service.”
The rickshaws promise to be a cost effective means of spreading family planning advice and treatment - they have low overheads and running costs and could be subsided by the nurses offering separate paid-for treatments.
There are also plans to give businesses the opportunity to sponsor the rickshaws.
At a ceremony in December to launch the rickshaw scheme, guest of honour Hassan Musa Takrima, the Zanzibar West District Commissioner, welcomed the scheme – but he added that it was also important to convince Zanzibari men that modern contraception methods are safe.
Marie Stopes Tanzania will look to expand the programme to other cities in Tanzania at the end of the year if it is deemed a success.
Read more about Marie Stopes International's work in Tanzania
Visit our facebook page for more news