‘Family planning services still inaccessible’

GOVERNMENT has been urged to ensure that family planning services are accessible to women and girls of reproductive age, including those in remote parts of the country, given that the national contraceptive prevalence rate for women aged between 15 and 49 is 67%.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

This was said by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council in statements to commemorate the World Contraceptive Day which is celebrated each year on September 26. This year’s event was being commemorated under the theme, It’s your life: It’s your responsibility.

“Although Zimbabwe has made huge progress in the provision of family planning for women and girls, more efforts are required to ensure access for even those in the remotest parts of the country,” the UNFPA statement said.

“Zimbabwe’s contraceptive prevalence rate, that is the proportion of women aged 15 to 49 using family planning is 67% today, an improvement from 59% in 2010, and 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.”

UNFPA said the unmet need for family planning among married couples was at 10% in urban areas….. and 11% in rural areas, while the unmet need for young people was at 12,6%.

ZNFPC executive director Munyaradzi Murwira said there was also need to reach out to young people, unmarried sexually active women to ensure there is availability of a variety of family planning methods to them.

He said the high contraceptive prevalence rate in Zimbabwe can be attributed to wide use of the pill.

“There is still need to expand contraceptive choice with access to a large variety of contraceptive methods that work over a longer time such as implants,” Murwira said.

He said women even in rural areas need to be provided with longer-term family planning methods like implants.

UNFPA country representative Esther Muia said family planning can overcome poverty by availing couples to choose the sizes of their families, as well as empower women.

“Family planning is a human right which empowers women and girls and helps save lives. Pregnancy should be by choice and not by chance,” Muia said.

She said in remote areas there was limited family planning services, especially for young girls, resulting in high teenage pregnancies.

“One in three girls below 18 fall pregnant as teenagers, which cuts short these girls’ productive lives. We need to look closely at expanding contraceptive choices for all,” she said.

Muia said proper family planning reduces the risk of death and disability associated with pregnancies and early child births.

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