PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday officially opened Tariro Clinic and Youth Centre in Hopley.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Regarded as the largest satellite clinic in Harare, Tariro was constructed by City of Harare through a skills development project for young people that was supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and private cement manufacturing company, LaFARGE. The project is part of the United Nations Joint Program on Adolescent and Youth Development.
Officiating the opening of the clinic, President Mnangagwa said “As we launch and commemorate World Population Day today, my Government would like to renew its commitment to the International Conference on Population and Development agenda. We support initiatives that improve the quality of life of Zimbabweans, including those seeking to promote universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights towards ending maternal deaths, Gender Based Violence, HIV infections and promoting the availability and use of family planning.”
He was deeply concerned over the rate of teenage pregnancies in Hopely.
“But I am disappointed. According to the statistics given by the minister of finance that about 18 percent of the young girls in this locality give birth before they are 18. Or get married before they are 18.
“Tavanemutemo hama dzangu. Nyatsai kuterera. Wokuti inoita mhosva kuroora kana kuroogwa unemakore aripasi pe18. Saka vakomana nevasikana. Ndataura. Tinoda kuti imi vana vedu vakomana nevasikana mupedze zvikoro. Kana mozoronga munenge madarika makore andataura. Kana waita mbimbindoga oti vainyepa unozoeruka wavako kuti vaitaura chokwadi kuChikurubi. (We now have a law, listen carefully, which criminalises marriages of people below 18 years. So boys and girls, I have spoken. We want you to finish school then plan about marriages after 18. If you think you are above the law, you will find yourself at Chikurubi.),” said the President.
United Nations, Resident Coordinator, Mr. Bishow Parajuli said in celebrating World Population Day whose theme is, 25 years of the International Conference on Population and Development: accelerating the promise; it is a reminder to UN and its implementing partners of the commitments made at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994.
“Zimbabwe has made great strides in meeting its ICPD commitments, including, improved access to contraceptives, reduction of maternal and infant mortality, improved access to education and health amongst other things. The launch of this clinic and youth centre is a good example of progress being made by Zimbabwe,” Parajuli said.
The project was funded by the Swedish Government.
“Sweden is a strong advocate for universal access to SRHR. With our support we wish to encourage young Zimbabweans to live healthy and productive lives. We hope that the activities at this clinic will result in reducing unwanted pregnancies, combating forced and early marriages, incidences of HIV and help preventing school dropouts”, said Martin Jörnrud, Chargè d’affaires, Embassy of Sweden. “We are impressed and inspired by the young people, and especially young women, from the area who have been able to develop their personal skills and improve their competitiveness for future employment as a result from this project.”
Speaking with HealthTimes, UNFPA Country Representative Dr Esther Muia said no one should be left behind in the country’s population in terms of development issues.
“The biggest message I want to give is that too many women are dying bringing a new life into the world. That has to stop. Too many people have dreams that are not fulfilled. And that’s why we work with young people to help them live to fulfil their dreams. The other thing is gender based violence is undoing any of the gains that we have made. And therefore we want to see a society, a safer Zimbabwe free of violence whether its gender based violence or its domestic violence. So we want no sexual expoitation and abuse of young people. So we are working with all different kind of sectors. So on world population day we want to make sure the women are protected, as well as the young people,” she said.