Tanzania's President Declares That There Is No Reason For Birth Control, Despite Ongoing Poverty Crisis

A woman and her children in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The average household has five children yet adults live on $2 or less per day. Anca Dumitrache/Shutterstock

Tanzania’s President, John Magufuli, stated at a public rally this past Sunday that families who use contraception due to concerns over limited resources for child raising are “lazy”. He then pronounced that women in the nation should stop taking birth control because large families are necessary for a productive future workforce.

"I have traveled to Europe and I have seen the effects of birth control. In some countries they are now struggling with declining population. They have no labor force," said Magufuli, according to Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen.

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The comments were made at a speaking event in Meatu, a district in northern Tanzania. Also present at the engagement were the country's health minister, Ummy Mwalimu, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative for the nation, Jacqueline Mahon.

"Those going for family planning are lazy... they are afraid they will not be able to feed their children. They do not want to work hard to feed a large family and that is why they opt for birth controls and end up with one or two children only," said Magufuli, who, it should be noted, has only two children himself.

“You people of Meatu keep livestock. You are good farmers. You can then feed your children. Why would you opt for birth control? These are my views, but I do not see any need for birth control in Tanzania,” Magufuli said. 

According to CNN, Magufuli further argued that ongoing government investment in maternal health programs and opening new hospitals should encourage women to have more children. His remarks are fundamentally at odds with the country’s current policies, as was made clear by MP Cecil Mwambe during a meeting of Parliament the following day, and the tenets of the government-approved programs offered by the UNFPA.

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