Politics Tanzania

Amnesty blasts Magufuli contraceptives ban

Amnesty International has criticised Tanzania’s President John Magufuli after his government told an American aid organisation to stop running family planning adverts in local media.

The Tanzanian leader has been critical of contraceptives, saying the country needed more people.

Amnesty’s director for the region, Seif Magango, called the decision “deplorable”.

“The Tanzanian authorities must immediately stop obstructing access to sexual and reproductive health services and end the intimidation of anyone providing information about such services – be they health workers, journalists or activists,” he added.

Health Permanent Secretary Mpoki Ulisubisya had told the organisation, FHI 360, to implement the order immediately.

“I request you to stop with immediate effect airing and publishing any family planning contents in any media channels, until further notice,” Mr Ulisubisya said in a letter dated 19 September.

The development comes after President John Magufuli said on 9 September that women should stop using contraceptives because Tanzania needed more people.

Opposition MP Cecil Mwambe criticised the comments, saying they contradicted the country’s health policy.

Mr Magufuli made similar comments in 2016.

After the launch of free primary and secondary education, he said: “Women can now throw away their contraceptives. Education is now free.”

Tanzania has a population of around 53 million people, with 49% of them living on less than $2 (£1.50) a day.

On average, a woman in Tanzania has more than five children, among the highest rates in the world.

He has proposed several controversial policies since he was elected in 2015.

Last year he proposed that pregnant schoolgirls be blocked from resuming their education after giving birth.

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