By Daniel Phiri
PARLIAMENTARY Portfolio Committee on Woman Affairs, Gender and Community Development is set to hold public hearings to gather views on the alleged effects of family planning methods (Hormonal contraceptives).
The public hearings which will be held in about eight towns (Lupane, Bulawayo, Mberengwa, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Chivhu, Bindura and Mazowe) across the country are scheduled to start from the 4th to 8th of December 2017.
According to the Committee, “interested groups and organisations are invited to the consultations. The contributions made will be considered by the Portfolio Committee and will be part of the committee’s report to be tabled in Parliament”.
There are currently different contraceptive methods and services available for family planning in Zimbabwe namely oral contraceptives (the Pill), condoms and implant insertions (Jadelle, Implanon), injectables (Deprovera) and Inter-uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD-Copper T) among others.
However, while some of these methods and services have been used over time, there have been outcries that some of them have serious negative side effects on women in the long-run.
According to Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, western countries are encouraging countries in Africa to use dangerous birth-control measures as a way of slowing down population growth in the region and eventually weaken the African continent.
Mudede has co-authored a book with Richard Hondo to that effect titled “Genetically Modified Organisms and Population Control Drugs in Developing Countries”.
However, Mudede’s assertion was dismissed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Gerald Gwinji who said “contraceptives are safe and reliable and do not cause any defects or infertility, and I would like to allay misconceptions thrown around in the media and say they are not true.
“Allegations that family planning curtails population growth are rather misplaced, as population growth is determined by fertility, mortality or migration,” he said.
According to statistics, there are about 2,050,000 women in Zimbabwe currently using family planning methods and services and it is estimated that in 2017, family planning will avert 598 000 unintended pregnancies, 178 000 unsafe abortions and 2 000 maternal deaths.
Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council distributes about 80 million male condoms, 4 million female condoms, 15 million cycles of oral pills, 1 million vials of injectables, 140 000 implants and 20 000 IUCDs per year.
And according to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 2015, the pill remains the most dominant method of family planning in the country.