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On Wednesday July 11, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Population Day.
World Population Day is commemorated each year since 1989, and it is a day the world focuses attention on the importance of population issues. The theme for this year’s commemorations is “Family Planning is a Human Right”.
The United Nations Population Fund and its partners have called on greater efforts to end this unmet need for family planning.
Zimbabwe has made huge progress in the provision of family planning for women, but more efforts are required to ensure access for even those in the remotest parts of the country, according to the United Nations Population Fund and it partners -the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Zimbabwe National Family Council.
Zimbabwe’s Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR), that is the proportion of women aged 15-49 using family planning, is 67 percent today, an improvement from 59 percent in 2010.
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.
Unmet need for family planning among married couples is 10 percent in urban areas and 11 percent in rural areas while unmet need for young people is 12,6 percent.
Zimbabwe National Family Council executive director Dr Munyaradzi Murwira said there is need to increase access to family planning for young people, unmarried sexually active women and strengthen the availability of a broad range of family planning methods including long acting ones.
The country’s high CPR is largely attributable to short-term methods, in particular 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.
“Family planning is therefore not about limiting couples but allowing couples the choice on when to have children, the number and how to space them,” said Dr Murwira.
There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that family planning can be a development strategy for improving health and well-being, reducing poverty and empowering women. As such, there is need to work hard to end unmet need for family planning.
“Providing women and young girls with information on family planning empowers them to make sound decisions that ultimately save their lives,” said Dr Esther Muia, United Nations Family Planning Council (UNFPA) Country Representative.
Access to voluntary family planning enables women to space their births, benefiting both mothers’ and children’s health. Family planning also reduces the risks of death and disability from pregnancy and childbirth too early or too late in a woman’s productive life.
Director Family Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Bernard Madzima said the Government was committed to the provision of family planning for women and girls. A total of 428 000 women (16-49) accessed and used modern FP method in 2017 compared to 366 000 in 2016.
“Zimbabwe’s Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) standing at 67 percent is one of the highest on the continent; this is a sign our Government’s commitment to the provision of family planning,” said Dr Madzima.
“We are very grateful to all our partners who have supported us to achieve this success and we will continue to work with them to end unmet need for family planning.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right.
The proclamation states that “parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children”.
Family planning is therefore not about limiting couples but allowing couples the choice on when to have children, the number and how to space them. – UNFPA Zimbabwe.