Challenge for adolescents to access contraceptives

WITH a commendable 68 percent contraceptive prevalence rate, Zimbabwe is faced with a huge task of getting adolescents to access contraceptives, in order to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions.
This comes as debate is still raging on whether condoms should be provided at school, with statistics showing that children as young as thirteen years were engaging in sexual activities.

As part of its Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) commitment Zimbabwe said it would work towards the removal of user fees for family planning, hence reduce the unmet need for adolescent girls from 16,9 percent to 8,5 percent by 2020.

It also seeks to increase the family planning budget including procurement of contraceptive commodities from 1,7 percent of national budget to 3 percent, among other things.

According to national statistics, over two million women in Zimbabwe are using the modern method of contraception in Zimbabwe. 

Projections are that as a result of contraceptive use, 598 000 unintended pregnancies will be prevented and 178 000 unsafe abortions will be averted while 2 000 maternal deaths will be averted.

“Every day, vulnerable women, especially those who are poor and are refugees, face social, economic and geographic obstacles to voluntary family planning services and information,” the United Nations Population Fund said in a statement to mark World Population Day recently.

“Some 214 million women in developing countries lack safe and effective family planning methods. Fulfilling their unmet demand would save lives by averting unintended pregnancies and reducing one third the estimated 300 000 annual maternal deaths.

The UNFPA has set an ambitious, transformative goal to eliminate all unmet demand for family planning by 2030. On this world Population day, we call on government and stakeholders help achieve this goal.”

Zimbabwe marked the World Population Day this week, providing free family planning and contraceptive services, as well as family planning information and service, HIV testing and counselling and cervical cancer screening for free in the central business district of the capital Harare.

Meanwhile, doctors in Zimbabwe are pushing for the legalisation of abortion to allow women to make a choice of either terminating or keeping their pregnancies without condition.

This comes as 20 percent of the maternal mortality cases have been attributed to backdoor abortions that cause serious health conditions.

Zimbabwe’s mortality rate currently stands at 526 maternal deaths for every 100 000 live births in Zimbabwe, with doctors saying it could be lower if abortion is legalised.

At the same time, revelations are that about 16 percent of the blood being used in hospitals is used in post-abortion cases.

Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights (ZHDR) said allowing pro-choice is a positive step towards universal access to reproductive health services.

Currently, abortion is covered under Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1977 (Chapter 15:10) which does not provide for wilful termination of pregnancy outside prescribed situations and conditions such as rape, incest and medical complications. —Bridget Mananavire


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