Zimbabwe: Call to Fund Family Planning

Treasury should provide funding for family planning in next year's budget as part of wider efforts to promote women's health and reduce the maternal mortality rate.

This was said by the Deputy Director Reproduction Health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Davidzoyashe Makosa during a recent sensitisation workshop for the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development.

Dr Makosa said much of the funding for family planning-related matters in the country was coming from donors and other development partners.

"The procurement of family planning commodities is dependent on other nations," she said.

"We are currently being sponsored to secure each and every family planning commodity that is consumed or taken up in Zimbabwe. That is a cause for concern for us because if these benevolent people decide otherwise or for some reason are not able to assist us, it means that we do not have family planning resources."

Dr Makosa said relying on donor funding was unpredictable, unsustainable and often comes with specific conditions that may not align with the country's priorities.

"Family planning is a very intimate matter, even at family level, I don't think anyone would allow their neighbour to come in and do family planning with their spouse, so why as a nation are we allowing that to happen at that level," she said.

"While we are so grateful to our partners for what they are doing, that doesn't mean that we should relinquish the responsibility; we have (a responsibility) as a people to secure the next generation."

Dr Makosa said family planning was important for the health of both mother and child.

"Healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies intervention is associated with the best outcomes for newborns, infants and mothers through the practice of recommended pregnancy spacing," she said.

Dr Makosa said some countries within the region had already implemented domestic public funding, citing Kenya which increased budgetary allocation from US$2,5 million to US$6,6 million in its 2005-2006 budget.

The committee chairperson Cde Felix Mhona said they would engage the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for a family planning budget to be set aside.

"This initiative of trying to involve the reproductive sector through the Ministry of Finance and the committee is important because it was just taken for granted that the health issues come through the budget of the Ministry of Health, but we found it very topical to say the family planning aspect is not being covered in terms of the line budget items," he said.

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