Integrating reproductive and child health and HIV services in Tanzania: Implication to policy, systems and services
In Tanzania, reproductive health and HIV services are coordinated by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in two separate units namely Reproductive and Child Health Section and the National AIDS Control Programme. The importance of integrating the two services that are vertically run is expected to improve access to and uptake of key essential services and extend coverage to underserved and vulnerable populations and thus minimizing missed opportunities. Experts around the world recognize the central role of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services in preventing HIV infection. Evidence suggests that improving access to contraception for women to prevent pregnancy is an important and cost-effective way to prevent HIV-positive births. Integrating SRH and HIV services therefore verifies its importance for improving maternal and child health as well as leading to prevention of HIV infection. The primary objective of this review was to gain an understanding of the current linkages between SRH and HIV within Tanzania’s policies, programmes, systems and services. Policy documents, guidelines, national laws, and published reports on SRH and HIV were reviewed. The majority of the reviewed documents mentioned fundamentals of integration between SRH and HIV. Majority of policies and guidelines both in family planning (FP) and HIV documents mandate bi-directional linkages. This review suggests that there are linkages between the two services and can be operationalised together. However, policies and guidelines only specify services to be integrated without due consideration of resources and structural orientation for linked services.