By Michael Gwarisa
THE United States government’s partnership with Population Services Zimbabwe (PSZ) has managed to avert not less than 814 maternal and 3,800 child deaths over the past five years.
At an event marking the five year partnership between the organisations which celebrated five years of improving access to voluntary family planning information and services to poor undeserving populations in Zimbabwe, USAID Zimbabwe Acting Deputy Mission Director, Julie Nenon said, “…the US is proud to increase availability of diverse family planning options for Zimbabweans.
“Enabling couples and individuals to determine whether, when, and how often to have children is vital to safe motherhood, healthy families, and prosperous communities.”
Through USAID, IFPS activity, PSZ provided voluntary family planning information and services as 1,200 mobile outreach sites in all 10 provinces to reach poor and undeserved women and men in rural and hard to reach areas.
Nenon added that family planning reduces maternal deaths and improves the health of women and their families.
“Increasing access to voluntary family planning services can reduce maternal deaths by an additional 30 percent each year. When used to space births at least two years apart, family planning methods save children’s lives as well.
“Children born 3 to 5 years apart are about 2.5 times more likely to survive compared to those born after shorter intervals, and these children are less likely to malnourished. In addition, such services can help to save the lives of an additional 1.4 million children under the age of 5 years globally,” she said.
Meanwhile, PSZ also supported a network of 50 social franchise clinics as part of the family planning services. To increase knowledge of family planning methods and dispel myths and misconceptions, PSZ conducted health education campaigns to provide individuals with accurate, understandable, and usable information about family planning.
Worldwide, almost 885 women intend to prevent or delay pregnancy, and about three quarters of these women are currently using modern contraceptives methods. More than 214 million women worldwide still express a need to time or space their pregnancies, yet are not using a modern method of family method of family planning.
PSZ Country Director and Chief of party Abebe Shibru said: “We extend our sincere appreciation to the USAID mission in Zimbabwe. USAID’s financial and technical support has helped us to provide a range of family planning methods to over half a million women and men in hard to reach and undeserved areas.
“We are determined to build on the legacy created by the IFPS activity by IFPS activity by continuing to expand access to family planning and giving women and girls the freedom to pursue their dreams and ambitions and take ownership of their future.”