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Tanzania, long considered an island of stability in the region, hosts the largest refugee population in Africa, due to conflicts in neighbouring Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The past decade has been marked by successful reforms and steady economic growth. Tanzania’s challenge for the future is to control the spread of HIV/AIDS and create better living conditions for the rural poor.
Issues facing children in Tanzania
- More than 400,000 refugees from other nations were living in camps in Tanzania at the end of 2004. Basic health services and facilities in the camps are good, but the rate at which refugees are returning to their own countries has slowed.
- Malaria is the leading killer of children.
- The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is nearly 9 per cent, though some studies say the infection rate is higher. The virus has orphaned nearly a million children and forced others to assume household responsibilities beyond their years in order to care for ailing parents.
- School enrolment rates have risen significantly since 2000. However, increased enrolment has led to a teacher shortage. Less than 20 per cent of students continue to secondary school.
Activities and results for children
- The Tanzanian government has developed a new national poverty-reduction strategy that reflects the UN Millennium Development Goals. UNICEF successfully advocated for an emphasis on the rights and participation of young people, gender equity and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
- In the refugee camps, UNICEF helps care for more than 70,000 pregnant or breastfeeding mothers and more than 100,000 children under age 5, providing immunization and other medical care. UNICEF has also provided school supplies and teaching materials for more than 130,000 primary-school aged refugee children.
- UNICEF supports the Ministry of Health’s immunization programme, which now reaches more than 90 per cent of Tanzanian children.
- Vitamin A supplementation and de-worming have been added to the biannual immunization programme.
- Maternal neonatal tetanus has been nearly eliminated and the number of measles cases has dropped dramatically.
- In two pilot districts, UNICEF has controlled malaria by distributing insecticide-treated bednets to pregnant women and infants. The programme’s success has prompted the government to launch a similar effort on a national scale.
- At least 85 per cent of households now use iodized salt in 2004, up from 68 per cent in 2002.
- A successful UNICEF-sponsored pilot programme in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV has led to the development of national guidelines for medical care.
- UNICEF has worked closely with the Tanzanian government to develop a national policy to protect orphans and other vulnerable children.