Family planning services still inaccessible in Masvingo newly-resettled areas

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People in newly-resettled areas in Masvingo rural are still finding it difficult to access family planning services resulting in increased school dropouts, child marriages and unwanted pregnancy, an official has said.

by HAZVINEI MWANAKA

Zimbabwe National Family Planning Services (ZNFPC) Masvingo provincial manager Peter Vhoko, said lack of funds had affected the provision of family planning services in the province.

He said the worst affected areas were Mwenezi new resettlement areas between Rutenga and Bubi, Soveneli between Rutenga and Chikombedzi, Bikita, Dewure 1 and Zaka.

“We have made attempts to reach these areas through outreach services and assigning community workers to visit these areas, but financial challenges betray us and our stakeholders,” Vhoko said.

He said there was need to construct health centres in all areas to address the problem.

“Failure and inadequate knowledge of family planning services in these areas has resulted in big families, school dropouts, child marriages, drug/alcohol abuse, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections,” Vhoko said.

At the London FP 2020 Global Summit in 2012, Zimbabwe, recognising the right to high quality reproductive health care, made a number of commitments.

These included committing itself to reduce the unmet need for family planning from 13% to 6,5% by 2020 and the family planning budget to double the procurement of contraceptive commodities, from 1,7% to 3% of the national health budget.

According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) 2010/11, the contraceptive prevalence rate among married women had remained unchanged around 60% from 2006 to 2011.

Meanwhile, Masvingo has for the past three years recorded an increase in the distribution of female and male condoms, according to a National Aids Council Masvingo 2014 narrative report.

The report said male condom distribution rose from 4,4 million in 2012 to 6,2 million in 2013 to 11 million in 2014.

Though the female condom distribution increased, its figures were lower as compared to the male condoms.

The female condoms were 418 051 in 2012, 478 573 in 2013 to 1,3 million in 2014.

The report attributed the increase to improved condom promotion in all the districts.

Condom distribution nationally increased in 2013. NAC said 100 million condoms were distributed nationally.

Masvingo also recorded a decrease in STI cases.

“The reduction in the number of new STI cases has been attributed to increased condom promotion during the year,” reads part of the report.

“There was a decrease in new STI cases from 10 856 in quarter one, 9 695 in quarter two, 8 307 in quarter three to 7 141 in quarter four (of 2014).”

In an interview, Masvingo NAC provincial co-ordinator Evos Makoni said a committee was set up to oversee the distribution of condoms.

“Basically, distribution of condoms does not say one has used the condom, but a committee was established to oversee the distribution of condoms,” he said.