Zim Faces Spike In Illegal Abortions…As Gvt Warns Of Worsening Contraceptives Crisis

GOVERNMENT has hinted of a worsening contraceptives crisis spilling into 2020 owing to a plethora of factors chief among them being delays in the procurement processes both at local level and from source markets.

By Michael Gwarisa

Briefing the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Health, Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) Acting Permanent Secretary, Dr Robert Mudyiradima said the contraceptives situation is likely to worsen.

The information that we have is that for the year 2020, there may be contraceptives challenges. That is the information that we have right now as the ministry of health.

“We would however have the contraceptives available so we will try and push to get contraceptives. It’s much safer and cheaper that way,” said Dr Mudyiradima.

According to reports, the country is grappling with contraceptives shortages at a national level and a recent Media tour conducted in Chimanimani and other Cyclone Idai hit areas indicated that there was shortage of oral contraceptives for women even though other alternatives such as condoms were available though in need of restocking.

Meanwhile, members of the Parliamentary portfolio committee on health urged government to urgently address the situation fearing it could trigger a rise in unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions.

Health Portfolio Committee Chair, Dr Ruth Labode said the prevailing contraceptives shortage was not healthy and government should start budgeting for post abortion complications which could spiral out of control.

“There is a rumour of contraceptives shortages, we want to hear from you as ministry what is the position regarding the shortage.  Now that we know that there is problem with contraceptives, as a Ministry, there is need for higher budget on post abortal complications which are going to come to you institutions.

“As long as a lot of people are going to get pregnant out there and they turn to abortion and they end up in your institutions, your budget will all be chewed by that. So you have to be prepared for the side effects of your incompetence,” said Dr Labode.

Proportional Representation Legislator for Midlands province, Honorable Perseviarance Zhou said MoHCC should realign its budgeting process to ensure specific critical areas receive adequate funding.

“When the ministry does its budgeting, there need for a needs assessment so that resources are allocated to critical areas that need financing. You have to get out of the normal way for budgeting, in situations like these you have to prioritise.

“What is to going to be of the pregnancies being created today, they will just opt for abortion as an alternative. Right now life is very difficult and people are venting their stress through excessive sexual intercourse and unwanted pregnancies will spiral. Please identify your priorities and move away from that rigid budgeting approach,” she said.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Zimbabwe records at least 700 000 illegal abortions annually and 200 000 women and young girls die due to post abortal complications. However, the 2019 State of the World Population report (SWP19) indicates that Zimbabwe has increased its contraceptives coverage from 42% percent in 1994 to 67% in 2018. The SWP19 however traces advances and efforts that have been realised in terms of availing reproductive health services to populations across the globe.

However, this increase has not done much in reducing the adolescent birth rate which currently stands at 110% in 2018 up from 99% in 1994.

Meanwhile, governments will converge in Nairobi, Kenya in a few months’ time for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) to deliberate on the strides and challenges that have been met by governments in availing Sexual and Reproductive Health Services (SRH).

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