MUTARE – Despite high contraception uptake in Zimbabwe, close to half of pregnancies conceived last year were unintended, according to statistics by the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC).
Addressing journalists in Mutare on Tuesday, ZNFPC Manicaland Provincial Manager, Dyson Masvingise said it was mind boggling that there are some sexually active people not using family planning methods given the literacy levels and the available resources.
“We have a very high unmet need for sexual reproductive health for married women which is standing at 13%, by this we mean women sexually active and can give birth but are not currently using any form of contraception.
“For the past five years it has been hovering between 15%-17% among married women and among unmarried youths. In fact 40% of pregnancies conceived last year were unintended, that is almost half,” said Masvingise.
Masvingise said adopting strategies to promote uptake of family planning has economic and social benefits that could accrue to the country.
“There are inherent advantages of using family planning methods in Zimbabwe and these are both economic and social, and our thrust as ZNFPC is for the transformation from use of short term to long term contraception methods.
“We have also committed as a country to increasing access to family planning methods and to reduce the unmet family planning need which is at 13% for unmarried women and 16.9% for married women.
“Using the rapid response method to increasing uptake of contraceptive methods could save Zimbabwe $457 million by 2020, where at current trends of contraception use will save around $111 million by the same period,” said Masvingise.
He also said adoption of contraceptive methods could reduce maternal and infant mortality.
Currently in Zimbabwe there are 570 deaths per every 100 000 live births according to ZNFPC, while 1 in 5 children fail to reach the age of five said Masvingise.
“Given such grim statistics where 1 in every 5 children die before the age of five years reducing fertility rate that mortality rate would also go down.
“In fact by just making contraceptive available Zimbabwe could save at least 5000 children by 2020, while by the same toke at least 2000 mothers could also be saved by the same period,” he said.
Masvingise however said the success of promoting uptake of contraception needed financial support adding that there is need for more funding to assist ZNFPC in ensuring that the unmet family planning needs are met.