18 July 2018

Zimbabwe: Expand Contraceptive Choices, Says Expert

There is need to increase access to family planning services for young people, unmarried sexually-active women and to strengthen the availability of a broad range of family planning methods, including long acting ones, a health official has said.

In a statement marking World Population Day commemorations recently, the Zimbabwe National Family Council (ZNFPC) executive director Dr Munyaradzi Murwira said the country's high Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) was largely attributable to short-term methods, in particular the pill.

He said there was still need to expand contraceptive choice with access to a large variety of contraceptive methods that work over a longer time such as implants.

"Family planning is therefore not about limiting couples, but allowing couples the choice on when to have children, the number and how to space them.

"There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that family planning can be a development strategy for improving health and well-being, reducing poverty and empowering women. We must therefore work hard to end unmet needs for family planning."

United Nations Family Planning Council (UNFPA) Country Representative Dr Esther Muia said providing information on family planning was fundamental to the female populace.

"Providing women and young girls with information on Family Planning empowers them to make sound decisions that ultimately save their lives," she said.

"Access to voluntary family planning enables women to space their births, benefiting both mothers and children's health. Family Planning also reduces the risks of death and disability from pregnancy and childbirth too early or too late in a woman's productive life."

Director Family Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Bernard Madzima said Government was committed to the provision of family planning for women and girls.

A total of 428 000 women aged 16 to 49 accessed and used modern family planning methods last year compared to 366 000 in 2016.

"Zimbabwe's Contraceptive Prevalence Rate standing at 67 percent is one of the highest on the continent -- this is a sign our government's commitment to the provision of family planning," said Dr Madzima.

"We are very grateful to all our partners who have supported us to achieve this success and we will continue to work with them to end unmet need for family planning."

According to the United Nations Population Fund and its partners - the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Zimbabwe National Family Council, the country has made huge progress in the provision of Family Planning for women but more efforts are required to ensure access for even those in the remotest parts of the country.

Zimbabwe's Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) -- which is the proportion of women aged 15-49 using family planning is currently sitting on 67 percent -- an improvement from 59 percent recorded in 2010.

This is one of the highest on the continent but there remains unmet need among women and girls of reproductive age, the majority of them in rural settings and often young.

Unmet need for family planning among married couples is 10 percent in urban areas and 11 percent in rural areas while unmet need for young people is 12.6 percent.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right.

The proclamation states that "Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children."

Family planning is therefore not about limiting couples but allowing couples the choice on when to have children, the number and how to space them.

World Population Day is commemorated each year World Population Day since 1989 as a day to focus attention on the importance of population issues.

The theme for this year's commemorations is: "Family Planning is a Human Right."

As Zimbabwe commemorates World Population Day, the United Nations Population Fund and its partners are calling on greater efforts to end this unmet need for family planning.

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