The president of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has urged women to have fewer babies. She made the call for women to consider birth control measures over concerns about the high birth rate in the country.
Speaking on the baby boom experienced in the country, the leader who assumed office in March last year said women should seek family planning advice and consciously try to reduce the birth rate.
“Yesterday I was told in Buselesele ward in Geita region, one (health) center produces 1,000 children a month.
“Now how many classes will be needed after three years? What of health centres – how many will be needed to serve all these children? How many tonnes of food will be needed? Let’s reduce the speed and have a control on this,” she said.
Her stance and remarks are opposite of those expressed by her predecessor, the late John Magufuli, who openly encouraged women not to use contraception. Instead, he urged them to give birth to as many children as they possibly could.
You will recall that during a political rally in 2018 in the west of Tanzania, former President Magufuli described those who use contraception as lazy.
And in 2016, after the launch of free primary and secondary education in the country, he said: “Women can throw away their contraceptives. Education is now free.”
A 2020 World Bank estimate said that Tanzania’s fertility rate was at 4.8 births per woman. The high birth rate was attributed to early marriages and low contraceptive use.
While it has been falling over the last 30 years, it has not declined as fast as other countries in the region, such as Kenya and Ethiopia, World Bank figures suggest.
Tanzania has a population of around 60 million people, with 49% of them living on less than $2 (£1.77) a day. President Samia Suluhu Hassan is of the opinion that an increase in the birth rate in Tanzania further puts the country at risk regarding the poverty index, which is on the rise.
However, many critics have said the birth rate in the country should be the least of concerns for the new president, saying there are more important issues requiring urgent attention in the East African country.
Official statistics, however, show that Tanzania is experiencing a slight decline in the birthrate. The birth rate for Tanzania in 2021 was 35.848 births per 1000 people, a 0.97% decline from 2020. The birth rate for Tanzania in 2020 was 36.199 births per 1000 people, a 0.96% decline from 2019. The birth rate for Tanzania in 2019 was 36.550 births per 1000 people, a 0.95% decline from 2018.
The current birth rate for Tanzania in 2022 is 35.497 births per 1000 people, a 0.98% decline from 2021. So, critics say there is no need for alarm, especially considering the country’s population.
Many of the citizens in the country clearly favour the gospel of the late John Magufuli when it comes to the birth rate.
President John Magufuli urged Tanzania’s women to “set your ovaries free” and bear more children as a way to help boost the economy into a regional powerhouse, a step critics said would instead worsen inequality and poverty.
“When you have a big population you build the economy. That’s why China’s economy is so huge,” he said late on Tuesday, citing India and Nigeria as other examples of countries that gained from a demographic dividend.
“I know that those who like to block ovaries will complain about my remarks. Set your ovaries free, let them block theirs,” he told a gathering in his hometown of Chato.
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