Zimbabwe’s contraceptive prevalence rate improving

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By Anna Chibamu

ZIMBABWE’S contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR), that is the proportion of women aged 15-49 using family planning, is at 67 percent, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has reported.

This represents a great increase from 59 percent experienced in 2010.

However, there remains unmet need among women and girls of reproductive age, mostly in remote areas.

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, said UNFPA and its partner, the Zimbabwe National Family Council (ZNFPC).

In the week of commemorating World Contraceptive Day, UNFPA and the government have called for greater investment in family planning to ensure access for all women and girls of reproductive age.

Zimbabwe National Family Council (ZNFPC) Executive Director Dr. Munyaradzi Murwira said that efforts should be doubled to reach young people, unmarried sexually active women and strengthen the availability of a variety of FP methods.

“The country’s high CPR is largely attributable to short term methods, the Pill. There is need to expand contraceptive choice with access to a large variety of contraceptive methods that work over a longer time such as implants.

“We must therefore work hard to ensure that even women and girls in the remotest part of the country have access to family planning both short term and long acting,” said Dr Murwira.

Unmet need for family planning among married couples is 10% in urban areas and 11% in rural areas while unmet need for young people is 12.6%.

According to UNFPA, family planning is essential to overcoming poverty, which worsens when individuals cannot choose the size of their family as there is overwhelming evidence suggesting that family planning can be a development strategy for improving health and wellbeing while reducing poverty and empowering women.

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

“Today, we still have areas with limited access to Family Planning information and services, particularly for young girls and for those in remote areas. This is of great concern particularly in the context of the high teenage pregnancies (1 in 3 girls below 18), which cut short these girls’ productive lives. We need to look closely at expanding contraceptive choice for all.

“Women who have fewer risky births, healthier pregnancies and safer deliveries have lower risks of death and have improved overall health. These improvements produce economic benefits: greater investments in schooling, greater productivity, greater labour force participation and, eventually, increased income, savings, investment and asset accumulation,” said Dr. Esther Muia, UNFPA Country Representative.

World Contraceptive Day is commemorated every 26 September as a day to galvanise for action for improved access and knowledge about Family Planning.

The theme for this year’s commemorations is: It’s your life: it’s your responsibility.