YES Tanzania: Invest In Young People’s Educating and Health to realize SDGs

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Youth Education through Sports Tanzania (YES Tanzania) executive director Kenneth Simbaya has advised that educating young people and investing in their health as well as informing them about their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is a smart economic move for any nation and the world at large.

Speaking on 12th August to mark the International Youth Day (IYD),Simbaya said young people are key to realizing development goals of any nation as well as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but if countries want to reap the benefits from young people, countries need first to invest in young people’s education and health.

In keeping with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this year the theme for IYD is The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production and the leading role young people can play in that.

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International Youth day celebrates young people as essential partners in promoting human rights and development. Photo: © UNFPA – See more at: http://www.unfpa.org/events/international-youth-day-3#sthash.HPinPKq0.CRMt0Ao0.dpuf

Quoting the United Nations Envoy for Youth Ahmed Elhandawi, Simbaya said, the mathematics is simple. Half of the world’s population is under 25 years old. Therefore, young people are not just the beneficiaries of the 2030 Agenda, but rather, they hold the key to its success.

Young people are making waves in every field from technology, to art, to sports, to food, to science and innovation, and everything in between. They are offering bold and inspiring solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Citing health challenges, particularly SRHR challenges faced by young people in Tanzania, Simbaya said, nearly 50% of Tanzania population is 18 years old, making Tanzania one of the world’s youngest countries. SRHR is one of the three top priorities for YES Tanzania.

He said this large number of young people will soon face choices about sex and family planning. Youth in Tanzania like in other developing countries navigate serious health challenges like unprotected sex, early marriage and child bearing, and gender based violence.

TDHS 2010 show that 18% of young women and 4% of young men aged 15-19 are married, 1 in 4 young women aged 15-19 are pregnant or already mothers. Only 16% young women aged 15-24 are using modern family planning. Many Tanzanian women begin childbearing in their teenage years. Overall 23% of women aged 15-19 are pregnant or already have children.

Our children are beginning childbirth at a very tender age, some with consent from their parent and government, while others become mothers through risk taking behavior of indulging in premarital sex.

Latest data from TDHS 2015 show that, more than one in four women age 15-19 have begun childbearing (27 percent); this figure is slightly higher than that reported in the 2010 TDHS (23 percent): 21 percent have had a live birth, and 6 percent were pregnant with the first child at the time of the interview.

Simbaya said according to the TDHS 2015, the proportion of teenagers who have begun childbearing rises rapidly with age, from 4 percent at age 15 to 57 percent at age 19. Teenagers with no education and those in the lowest wealth quintile tend to start childbearing earlier than other teenagers. The percentage of teenagers who have begun childbearing is higher among rural women (32 percent) than urban women (19 percent).

According to Simbaya, reproductive health and family size have implications for households and ultimately for national economic growth.

Talking of demographic dividends, the YES Tanzania executive director said, “The demographic dividends becomes possible when fertility declines and working age people outnumbers dependents,”

“Women’s empowerment, smaller families, better healthcare, and expanded education and employment opportunities can improve community’s quality of life,” advised YES Tanzania executive director, insisting that if we want to change the world, and especially the poorer and developing countries of the south, there is nothing better than investing in adolescent girls who are the major player in reaping the demographic dividend of the country.

Well educated and empowered adolescents girls, will have the tools to reinvest back into their family, community, country and ultimately to the world, according to Simbaya
Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS) 2015/2016 highlights that, the issue of adolescent fertility is important on both health and social grounds. Children born to very young mothers are at increased risk of sickness and death.

Teenage mothers are more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes and are more constrained in their ability to pursue educational opportunities than young women who delay childbearing according to THDS 2015/2016.

Due to poor SRHR services, Simbaya said, 99% of girls who has ever been pregnant in Tanzania are not in school, perpetuating a poverty vicious circle to the girls and their would children, according to Population Council. “Maternal death, some resulting from unsafe abortion is leading cause of death among young and adolescent girls of reproductive age in Tanzania,” Simbaya pointed.

“So as we mark the IYD, investing in adolescent and young people’s health and education is key to improving their survival and wellbeing and critical to realizing Sustainable Development Goals,” concluded YES Tanzania executive director.

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