The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: PSZ Commemorates Women's Day

POPULATION Services Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in celebrating International Women's Day, denouncing all forms of violence against women while recognising the right for women to fully enjoy their fundamental rights, including their right to family planning and reproductive health services.

The International Women's Day's celebrations being held under the theme: "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women" comes at a time when over 200 million families in developing nations like Zimbabwe want access to modern contraception to space or limit their births.

PSZ is an affiliate of Marie Stopes International and has been providing efficient, effective and sustainable family planning and reproductive health services to men and women, with particular emphasis on the lower income and disadvantaged communities in Zimbabwe for the past 25 years.

PSZ's aim is to compliment the efforts of Government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council in achieving the fifth Millennium Development Goal through improving access to and widening available options or choices in family planning and sexual reproductive health services. In so doing, they hope to play a part in the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity in the country.

For many Zimbabweans, lack of access to family planning services is a major barrier, particularly to those living in rural areas. Lack of access and unavailability of contraception would mean that the average woman would not have the capacity and opportunity to space their births and to control the number of children they wish to have.

To respond to the health needs of the women in Zimbabwe, PSZ has eight clinics and nine outreach teams in the ten provinces of Zimbabwe, which provide high quality reproductive health services as well as general medical consultation, STI screening and treatment, HIV counselling and pre and post-natal care, among other services. PSZ through its outreach teams delivers free sexual and reproductive health services to people residing in the hard to reach areas of the country, thus tackling current barriers such as cost and accessibility. In addition to this, a network of 100 private doctors and nurses have been selected to partner PSZ in service provision of family planning methods under a social franchise partnership network called BlueStar.

According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Services (ZDHS 2010/11) the unmet need for family planning remains unchanged at 13 percent for the past decade. Last year, PSZ announced its contribution to the long term family planning goals in Zimbabwe by pledging to double the number of women using contraception provided through its clinic, social franchise and outreach network by 2015.

This doubling of PSZ's impact will be delivered by maintaining women who are currently using a PSZ supplied contraceptive; offering greater quality and choice of method to other women who are using a method that may not be right for them; and enabling those women, who have never had the opportunity to use contraception, to access the method of their choice. In 2011 alone, over 200 000 women were using a form of modern contraception provided through the PSZ service delivery network.

Family Planning Methods

Population Services Zimbabwe works on the principle of the importance and wisdom of having Children by Choice not Chance.

To enable couples choice to contraception, PSZ offers a broad range of family planning products that include short term methods (emergency contraception, condoms, pills, depo-provera), long term methods (jadelle, loop), permanent methods (Tubal Ligation for women, vasectomy for men) and these are available in their clinic, social franchise partnership and outreach network nationwide.

If Population Services Zimbabwe fulfils its pledge, it means that there will be fewer unintended pregnancies, fewer women and girls dying from pregnancy related complications and childbirth and ultimately leads to healthier families in Zimbabwe.

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