Planned Parenthood critical in Zimbabwe
The low income community of Epworth is home to twenty- five year old Virginia Gondo, a mother of three.
By Michelle Chifamba
Now visibly pregnant she is expecting her fourth child.
Virginia admits that she could have waited to have another baby or stay with the three.
Her husband took an early retirement from his job as a prison guard due to health conditions. He is now making a living from repairing bicycles and shoes in the local community.
Although Virginia wished to have a small family, she got pregnant before her intended time because she is failed to access a reliable supply of family planning pills from the nearest health institutions within her neighborhood.
“I ran out of the pill and I could not get the next supply immediately because most of the health institutions were I used to get them had none.”
“While there are other methods of contraceptives the most popular is the pill because it is affordable. We do not have money to opt for other methods which are expensive,” said Virginia.
According to local media reports, the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council admitted that the country was running out of stock and facing an acute shortage of contraceptives due to procurement challenges.
Many women in Zimbabwe’s rural and urban low income settlements seem to be affected by the effects of inaccessibility preventing them to effectively plan for their pregnancies, children’s future and their health.
“Some contraceptive pills that are sold in the tuck shops and vendors cannot be trusted because some of them would have outlived their shelf life,” she added.
According to organizations that represent women there is need to improve on the information about child bearing and access to contraception in Zimbabwe especially in low income settlements.
Citizens Health Watch, Trustee Fungisai Dube says the government should prioritize women’s sexual reproductive health rights.
Dube said, “We are dealing with a country that shows no respect for its women. The shortages of contraceptives in the country shows that there is lack of political will from the government in terms of respecting the sexual and reproductive health rights of women.”
“While we are fighting against all forms of gender based violence. It seems that violence has taken a different toll. The lack of access to contraceptives means women are going to be exposed to unwanted pregnancies.”
“As a result of the shortages of contraceptives many women of child bearing age are going to fall pregnant before their time and they are going to be burdened with the issues of maternal health,” she added.
The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, Zimbabwe said it is the government’s responsibility to provide sexual reproductive health rights that promote a safe environment for women.
White Ribbon Alliance Zimbabwe, Coordinator Dr Mudokwenyu- Rawdon said, “It is government’s policy to provide sexual reproductive health to women. The problem is a policy issue and the government needs to resuscitate the health system to support the sexual reproductive health rights of women.”
Proportional Representation Member of Parliament (MDC), Paurina Mpariwa said, “In any crisis women are always at the receiving end. It is sad that Zimbabwe will not attain its SDGs because the country is failing to provide health services for women.”
“This issue of lack of access to reproductive health is a human rights issue. The rights of women are being violated as they fail to access basic services. In an era where we are supposed to be celebrating modern technology it seems we are regressing to the ancient times,” Honorable Mpariwa said.
Zanu PF Proportional Representation Member of Parliament, Tatenda Mavetera said there is need for the government to effectively address the key challenges that women are facing so that they do not remain vulnerable.
“There is need for us to have gender -lenses when it comes to issues of women so that women become comfortable and understand their worth in society. Reproduction is a natural process and it is the role of women to give birth, but they should not be made to suffer for it.”
“As legislatures we need to create laws and implement policies that are supposed to address the challenges that women are facing when it comes to access to sexual reproductive health rights,” said Honorable Mavetera.