Where We Work
The goal of the USAID | Health Policy Initiative in Tanzania (HPI/Tanzania) is to foster an enabling environment for the scale-up of HIV prevention, care, and treatment and provision of high-quality family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) services. In doing so, HPI/Tanzania builds the capacity of in-country partners to identify and pursue the policy changes needed to support a stronger national HIV response and improve access to FP/RH services. The project also supports measures that reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination and gender inequities, including gender-based violence.
In particular, HPI/Tanzania focuses its efforts in five strategic areas:
- Identifying and addressing key policy barriers that hinder the successful implementation of HIV and FP/RH programs
- Developing and implementing laws, policies, and plans
- Strengthening advocacy efforts
- Reducing gender inequities
- Promoting evidence-based decisionmaking
HPI/Tanzania continues and builds on the work initiated under Task Order 1 of the Health Policy Initiative (HPI-TO1) (2005–2008). HPI-TO1 engaged religious leaders on HIV issues, including stigma and discrimination, and helped foster a stronger response to HIV among religious communities. The project built the advocacy and institutional capacity of networks of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and helped them forge partnerships with the media. The project also played a key role in finalizing the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act, adopted in 2008, which protects the rights of PLHIV. In the area of family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH), the project used the RAPID Model to analyze the impacts of lower fertility and population growth on Tanzania's ability to achieve its social and economic objectives. This renewed high-level dialogue on FP/RH issues and led the Christian Council of Tanzania and the Ulamaa—the Supreme Clerical Council for Muslims—to issue declarations in support of family planning and birth spacing. HPI-TO1 also supported Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) in drafting the National Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan (NFPCIP).
Supreme Clerical Council Endorses Use of FP. In March 2008, following a presentation by the project showing the negative impact of continued high population growth on economic development and the provision of healthcare and education, the National Muslim Council of Tanzania formed a technical team to link reproductive health, population and development, and Islamic teachings. Based on the findings of this team, the Ulamaa—the Supreme Clerical Council for Muslims—issued a declaration in support of family planning.
Christian and Muslim Councils Issue Stigma Reduction Guidelines. To address the problem of HIV-related stigma and discrimination within their religious communities, the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) and the Muslim Council of Tanzania (BAKWATA) approved guidelines on stigma and discrimination in August 2008. The guidelines—which emerged from a series of trainings conducted by the project—cover employment issues, the needs and rights of HIV-positive individuals, and religious leaders’ role in stigma reduction.
Pentecostal Church Leaders Reverse Stance on HIV. Leaders of the Pentecostal Church of Tanzania (PCT) have traditionally resisted participation in the fight against HIV. A commonly held belief among members and church leaders is that religious people cannot contract HIV and that HIV can be healed through prayer. This has discouraged PLHIV within the church from disclosing their status or accessing services. The project collaborated with the Tanzania Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV (TANERELA) to hold two workshops for senior PCT leaders. The training dramatically changed the participants’ attitudes and beliefs about HIV. Afterwards, the Pentecostal leaders committed to expand training, sensitize other bishops and pastors, and establish an HIV department within the Pentecostal Church.