what we learned
We entered 2016 thinking we needed to encourage healthcare providers – doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacy staff – all over Tanzania to be more willing to provide access to contraception to unmarried adolescents. What we’ve found is an opportunity to look at our message and our messengers through a wider lens.
While many adolescent girls need a trusted and accurate source of information about avoiding pregnancy, our message should do more than start and end with contraception. In Tanzania, adolescent girls likely will not absorb information about contraception until they better understand their journey of development from girlhood to womanhood. Right now traditional ceremonies and teachings educate girls about a few aspects of their development. But, there are big, looming gaps in the teachings. If those gaps are filled, we can put contraception into a larger narrative about what it means to be and care for yourself as a Tanzanian woman.
Furthermore, while sparking a better exchange about contraception between providers and unmarried adolescents continues to be a worthy goal, we recognize the need to think bigger about who else - in addition to medical providers - can serve as messengers of accurate and relevant information. There’s an opportunity to give more people - from government officials to parents to ADDOs (accredited drug dispensing outlets) to influential community members - a greater, more informed and consistent voice about the benefits of some youth using contraception. Benefits that serve youth as well as the broader community.
After synthesizing all that we learned during our Design Research in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Bagamoyo and Dakawa, here are the key insights gleaned from our conversations and observations: