In August, the Center for Reproductive Rights submitted a shadow letter to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee) regarding sexual and reproductive rights in Tanzania. The Committee’s concluding observations, which were released in November reflected several key concerns in the shadow letter:
Notably, it recommended that Tanzania “urgently address the high dropout rate from both primary and secondary education, including by abolishing mandatory pregnancy testing and prohibiting expulsions due to pregnancy.” It further urged the government to “take measures to address the high rate of teenage pregnancies, including through family-planning information and services, ensuring access to contraceptives regardless of marital status or age and promoting sexual and reproductive health as part of the education curriculum targeted at adolescent girls and boys.”
Acknowledging the high rate of maternal mortality, the Committee enjoined the government to “ensure that births are assisted by skilled birth attendants” and to “intensify its efforts to improve women’s access to basic obstetric and neonatal care, reproductive health services and to basic health-care centres, in particular in rural areas.”
The Committee also highlighted the “shortage of qualified health-care professionals, shortages in medical supplies, in particular in rural clinics, and difficulties in access to health-care centres” due to long distances from villages and called for more government efforts, “including through allocation of increased resources, adequate provision of medical equipment and staff at health centres, and ensuring coverage of health-care services for rural villages.”
Further, the Committee called for the elimination of discrimination against persons living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and for improved access to the health care services they need. It also asked for effective enforcement of the law that criminalizes female genital mutilation and public-awareness campaigns to end the practice. Finally, the Committee also asked the government to disseminate the concluding observations and to report on the implementation in its next periodic report.
The Center welcomes the concluding observations and strongly urges the government of Tanzania to implement these recommendations.