Good sexual and reproductive health, as defined by the UNFPA and WHO, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system. It implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so.” Sustainable development is tightly interrelated with human rights and sexual reproductive health. These issues must be addressed in order to improve conditions of poverty and gender inequality.
Tanzania has had a remarkable average annual GDP growth rate of 7%; however, this has produced little development and reduction of overall poverty levels. Economic growth alone in not sufficient, as is emphasized in the Human Development Index. Low birth and death rates are essential. Tanzania has seen some improvements in terms of infant mortality rates, which the World Bank indicates has dropped from 59 per 1000 live births in 2005 to 35 in 2015. However, according to the UNDP, Tanzania also has one of the fastest population growths in the world (at an average of 2.7% per year), adding 1.2 million people each year. Nationwide, 23% of teenagers have started childbearing. Tanzania faces widespread misconceptions around birth control methods, a limited range of choices due to limited resources, inadequate communication between couples, and poor male involvement. Furthermore, strong correlations have been drawn between HIV and other STDs and poorly implemented sexual and reproductive health on a policy, systems and service level. Addressing the need for contraceptives and a wider range of reproductive health issues would prevent many unwanted pregnancies, save many lives, and allow girls to fulfill an education.
The capability for women to make informed decision over their sexual and reproductive health, to decide the number and timing of pregnancies with their partner, and to learn how to manage health problems is essential for a country’s well being. Improving sexual reproductive health would help diminish gender disparities and have an overall positive impact on a country’s economy. Having smaller families could allow parents to invest more in each child, and educated women could provide more fulfilling and productive roles in society. Improving overall wellbeing and tackling these global health issues requires providing information and healthcare access in an urgent manner.