Saturday, April 2, 2011

GEMSA Tanzania engaged in Sexual Reproductive and Health Awareness

GEMSA Tanzania (GEMSAT) is an organization with individual and institutional membership. Most of the GEMSAT activities focused on awareness and advocacy issues concerning gender like education, health, economic, social etc. In every theme we are looking in gender extra eyes.

GEMSAT as a chapter organization of individuals and institutions who work to promote gender equality in and through the media in a SADC countries, its mission is to promote the mainstreaming of gender in Southern Africa media as integral to the advocacy for freedom of expression, a free and independent media and for the development of democratic societies in the region.

Another major reason for GEMSAT to decide to work on that Project is whereby, after the adoption of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development adopted 17 August, 2008, GEMSAT make a thorough overview and found that there are gaps which need special attention in order to fulfill mission and vision of the Gender Protocol. These gaps one of them is the problem of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) for majority women in Southern Africa, particularly in Tanzania.

GEMSAT as a CSO’s works with journalists and other Gender activists found that there are is a need to implement this project to be as a way of reducing health problems to women and sensitization to the government through its Ministry for Health and Social Affairs.

Background information regarding to this project is the agreement made by our state leaders at Maputo, Mozambique on 2006 and this agreement called The Maputo Plan of Action (MPoA).
MPoA is a framework for implementing the African Union’s Continental Policy Framework for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. MPoA was approved by Ministries of Health of African Union member states in Maputo, Mozambique, on September 2006. This plan states that African leaders have a civic responsibility to respond to the sexual and reproductive health needs and rights of their people. The Maputo Plan of Action (MPoA) was intended to be a demonstration of their commitment however three years after being signed it is not clear how the provisions of the plan have been implemented at regional and national level.
Girls and women continue to lack control over matters related to their sexuality and sexual health and rights. Sexual and reproductive ill-health accounts for almost one third of the global burden of disease among women of reproductive age. Sexual and reproductive health information, education and services should be widely available and affordable for all. Yet too often they remain inaccessible.
As a result, the risk of maternal mortality in Africa remains the highest of all continents. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest infant mortality rate and, at the same time, accounts for half of the developing world’s maternal deaths (1 in every 100 births). It also has the lowest rate of contraceptive use in the world (19%). 4.2 million unsafe abortions occur in Africa every year, causing 30% of all maternal deaths in the continent, and taking 90 women’s lives every day. Finally, the HIV epidemic has expanded at a pace that has outstripped efforts to bring services to scale. In 2007, the number of new HIV infections was 2.5 times higher than the increase in the number of people receiving antiretroviral.
Despite the emphasis on integrating HIV with sexual and reproductive health issues, current HIV policies in many countries do not explicitly state the importance of reproductive rights and neither do they provide guidance on how to mainstream sexual and reproductive rights into existing reproductive and HIV programs. The linkages between HIV policies and programs and SRHR policies and services need to be reaffirmed. There is an urgent need for political and civil society leaders to be informed about the provisions of the Maputo Plan of Action, and develop strategies to accelerate its implementation.
On this project, GEMSAT has the following objectives: To raise awareness on the MPoA and related policy instruments such as the SADC GAD Protocol amongst health reporters; to create a pool of journalists that will track the implementation of the MPoA in Tanzania and to increase media coverage on SRHR and how government, private sector and civil society are implementing the MPoA in Tanzania.
In order to make sure that advocating is taking its chance, GEMSAT earmarked to create empowerment to journalists and awareness to Tanzania communities on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). Journalists will be able to write in detail all issues on health related to reproductive health, on which we believe after this exercise GEMSAT will develop a group of journalists (Pool) who can be well cooked and being able to write issues on MPoA and the targeted readers will be well informed with SRHR information.

Violence against women and girls children continues to be a serious issue in Tanzania with its devastating consequences that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS, to unplanned pregnancies for school children and sexually transmitted infections. These also extend up to the increase of maternal mortality and death of children under five years.

Therefore, during this period, a close monitoring on the published gender sensitive articles concerning MPoA will be done by making a collection of published clippings from the Newspapers. As we expected this project to be extended for nine months, within this period GEMSAT will make a one pull out of detailed researched feature (Special Issue) articles in a newsletter.

It is our believe that through this project, GEMSAT together with other stakeholders will examine more closely how well Tanzania as a country is doing in addressing issues of SRHR in a comprehensive manner as outlined in the Maputo Plan of Action to which Tanzania is a signatory.

Through media advocacy, it is our great hope that the Government of Tanzania may act-upon by increasing health equipments for labour and maternity wards/hospitals, trained staff including clinical officers and qualified nurses will be paid better salaries to increase their motivation.

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