Editorial Comment: Contraceptive shortages reversing Zim’s health achievements

Editorial Comment

THE shortage of condoms and contraceptives afflicting Zvimba and other areas in Mashonaland West poses a serious challenge in terms of health and development as it will likely spike the rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections in those communities.

Although only Mashonaland West is affected at the moment, early this year other parts of the country also suffered the same fate and although there were indications that the problem would have been resolved by now, it is worrisome that there is still no end in sight.

It is quite unfortunate that Zimbabwe has become synonymous with shortages, from fuel through cash to passport paper and ink and, now, contraceptives.

This is a particularly sensitive area in view of the fact that they are directly tied to people’s health. Zimbabwe has covered significant strides in the fight against HIV and the shortage of condoms, if not addressed urgently, might undo the positive steps that have been taken so far.

The fact that growthpoints, where a sizeable population meets for fun and pleasure, are the hardest hit must jolt the responsible authorities into action.

Here is a place where people from different parts of the country meet. The absence of contraceptives will unlikely stop all the pleasure activities — it will probably just increase the charge for the services, but otherwise, it will be business as usual, and the consequences will be dire.

Contraceptive shortages have become a national challenge, with several areas around the country experiencing the same problem because in April this year, public health institutions in Matabeleland North and South provinces ran out of contraceptives, leaving most women stranded as they could not afford the high prices charged by private pharmacies.

Other reports say some of the facilities had gone for weeks without supplies, while a few had very low supplies of oral contraceptives, injectables and implants. The region also faces a serous shortage of condoms.

The country cannot afford to contain such anomalies because it is herein that infection rates are likely to increase — just as more slip ups would be costly in dealing with problems of this nature.

These gaps in healthcare delivery tend to leave a lot of young people exposed as they may end up having unprotected sex, thereby increasing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

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