HEALTH and Child Care ministry secretary Gerald Gwinji yesterday poured cold water on Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede’s recent assertions that family planning methods used by Zimbabwean women are unsafe.
by VENERANDA LANGA
“Contraceptives are safe and reliable and do not cause any defects or infertility, and I would really like to allay misconceptions thrown around in the media and say they are not true,” he said.
“Allegations that family planning curtails population growth are rather misplaced, as population growth is determined by fertility, mortality or migration.”
Gwinji said the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council has been co-ordinating family planning activities, adding Zimbabwe abides by international family planning standards and best practices supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Mudede is expected to launch a book on Friday, which attacks modern contraceptive methods, saying they cause birth defects such as birthing children with big heads, as well as affecting couples’ libido.
“We work with WHO on each new family planning method to collect data on Zimbabwean women. The side effects cannot override the advantages, and when one method does not work for one individual, a trained person can administer another.
“Some 5% of women on Depo Provera can bleed, but we cannot forget the 95% protection that they get,” Mike Chirenje, from the Obstetrics and Gynaecological department, who accompanyed Gwinji, said.
Chairperson of the committee, Biata Nyamupinga asked Gwinji if family planning could affect libido.
“I have no answer to that. It is subject to some study to determine if women and men get those effects. It is an area where social scientists can research on,” he responded.
Chirenje said contraceptives and anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs go through the liver and kidneys, resulting in them competing, but he said there was need for more research to see if they affected sexual libido.
“It is a broad topic and as most men grow older, they take blood pressure medication and it affects libido. There are also some ARVs that affect libido,” he said.
Gwinji said it had been difficult to ascertain effectiveness of traditional family planning methods like the withdrawal method and herbs, given that most herbalists were secretive with their knowledge.