Call For Increased Domestic Funding For Family Planning

THERE is need for Zimbabwe to have a budget line dedicated for  family planning commodities as most of the funding comes from donors, a Ministry of Health and Child Care official said on Thursday.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

Speaking at a Budget and Finance parliamentary committee sensitization workshop on family planning issues, on behalf of Family Health director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Bernard Madzima, his deputy Dr DavidzoyaShe Makosa said family planning is one of the pillars of safe motherhood and as ministry of health and childcare.

Currently, there is no specific funding with about 3, 7 percent earmarked for family planning which comes from the Aids Levy and Airtime Tax.

“We are grateful for the support that we currently have which supports family planning administratively,” he said. “But we are calling and advocating for support by government for commodity security. Currently our commodity supply purchasing security is donor dependent. So we are advocating that we have a budget allocation from the national fiscus that speaks for commodity security for family planning commodities.”

He said researches show that increased allocation and efficient use of domestic public funding and financing for voluntary family planning at national and sub-national levels has high impact.

“One of the high impact interventions for that is increased allocation and efficient use of domestic public funding and financing for voluntary family planning at national and sub-national levels. When it comes to our current family planning program and I’m sure you will be impressed by our numbers. But sadly procurement of our funding in planning commodities is dependent on other nation.

“We are currently being sponsored to secure each and every family planning commodity that is consumed or taken up in Zimbabwe. And that really is a cause of concern because if tomorrow these benevolent people decide otherwise or for some reason are not able to assist us it means that we do not have family planning resources,” said Dr Madzima.

He added, “So one of the things that have been is that family planning has been shown to be a best buy for governments really. For each dollar spent for contraceptive services and that just doesn’t mean popping of pills. That means education. That means service delivery. That means the treatment I spoke of, that speaks to the whole range of family planning. In terms of health care it reduces the cost maternal new born heath care by USD2, 20.

“Family planning is one of the pillars of safe motherhood. Our maternal mortality rate is pegged as 651 per 100 000 live births. To put that into context, there are other countries in Africa like Mauritius, theirs is 48 per 100 000 live births. There are other countries who have a single digit, 6 per 100 000 , 8 per 100 000. Ours almost translates to six women dying every minute due to pregnancy related causes.”

UNFPA Technical Specialist of Maternal Health and Family Planning Dr Vibhavendra Raguvanshi said there was no financial commitment by  Treasury towards family planning commodities as it is funded by USAID, UNFPA and other donors.

Budget and Finance committee chairperson Hon Felix Mhona said the meeting paved way for parliamentarians to consider having a budget line for family planning.

“I think the point here is traditionally they would introduce their bids through the ministry of health and they would come through the portfolio committee of health not necessarily through the budget committee. And this initiative of trying to involve the reproductive sector in terms of their bids through the ministry of finance and through the committee in particular, its quite important.

“Because it was just taken for granted that the health issues they just come through the ministry of health. But it we found it very topical to say the family planning aspect is not being covered in terms of the line budget. It is quite important that since we have started this process, more engagement in terms of awareness so that when we do the advocacy, when the start the budgetary process, we are going to invite the ministry of health particularly on the issues to do with family planning so that we have a direct line,” he said.

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