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Zimbabwe to Facilitate Increase in Access to Family Planning

Government today pledged to facilitate the continued access to family planning services, especially in rural areas, and hard-to-reach communities to meet the Family Planning 2020 deadline, while looking for ways to eliminate user fees for family planning services.

This came out at a meeting organized by the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) in collaboration with the UN Population Fund focusing on the theme ‘Economic returns of investing in family planning'.

Stakeholders said Zimbabwe can benefit from a higher rate of contraceptive use.

Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) is a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to decide, freely, and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children they want to have.

FP2020 works with governments, civil society, multi-lateral organizations, donors, the private sector, and the research and development community to enable 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020.

Under FP2020, Zimbabwe is working on raising the country's contraceptive prevalence, already at a rate of 58%, to 68% by 2020.

UN Population Fund Zimbabwe director, Tamisai Chinhengo, explained Zimbabwe can expect economic gains in the education and health sectors of nearly $300 million and $70 million respectively from investing in family planning.

“It also makes a difference in the lives of these woman and the children that are born into these families because it allows women to be able to recover from each pregnancy, become more productive, have children that the families can look after,” said Chinhengo

She said there is a marginal number of women in Zimbabwe who have not been able to access family planning services.

Though Zimbabwe has a contraceptive prevalence use rate higher than most African countries, the issue of family planning is at times met with misconceptions, by some women and men.

Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council marketing and communications manager, Simon Chikwizo, told VOA Studio 7 that although there maybe misconceptions on family planning, organizations are working to help families better understand the use and need for family planning.

“The issue of family planning, it is someone’s choice that’s why we have a range of these family planning methods. So if a customer comes we actually give more information to the customer and we tell the customer advantages and disadvantages of each method,” said Chikwizo

He said the ZNFPC, with locals throughout Zimbabwe, is open to women, men and familiesasisting to understand the use and benefits of family planning.

Zimbabwe made four key commitments at 2012 London Summit on Family Planning. These are to increase contraceptive prevalence rate from 59% to 68% by 2020; reduce the national unmet need for family planning from 13% - 6.5% by 2020.

Commitment three calls for Zimbabwe to reduce the national unmet need for family planning among adolescent girls from 17% to 8.5% by 2020, while commitment four moves to increase national access to long acting contraceptive methods.

Stakeholders say resources, leadership commitment, policy & service delivery are needed to fulfill the commitments.