ZIMBABWE has committed to advancing quality Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services to adolescent girls, women and young people in line with the ICPD25 goal of ending the unfinished business to health access.
By Michael Gwarisa in Nairobi, Kenya
Presenting the commitments on the closing day of the 25th International Conference on Population Development (ICPD), Director Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Ministry of Health and Care (MoHCC) Dr Robert Mudyiradima said Zimbabwe was willing to make revisions to certain policies hindering access to sexual reproductive health and rights.
At this occasion marking 25 years of the ICPD summit, Zimbabwe is making commitments to revise the population policy, put in place capacitate a hive of national coordination board for implementation of the National Population Policy (NPP).
“Zimbabwe is also committing to increase by 50 percent the maternal mortality reduction from the current figure of 651 young girls by 2030 as well as develop a comprehensive national SRHR package and integrate it into the national Universal Health Coverage (UHC) strategies, policies and programs,” said Dr Mudyiradima.
He added that the renewed ICPD commitments by Zimbabwe would also focus on boosting maternal health by scaling up recruitment of trained and skilled midwives in health institutions across all primary healthcare facilities.
“We also commit to employ trained midwives to provide integrated sexual and reproductive health services at all primary healthcare facilities by 2030. We also commit to align all laws pertaining to marriage to the constitution of Zimbabwe 2013 by 2030.
“Zimbabwe will also implement the national plan of action on ending child marriages, harmonise marriage laws and set age of marriage at 18 years by 2030.”
Zimbabwe’s new ICPD program of action will also see government investing resources towards multi-sectorial services for survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and strengthen key institutions.
“We also commit to economically and socially empower women and girls to be actively engaged in the country’s development. We also intend to finalise and fully implement the disability amendment act to support service access by women and girls with disabilities by 2030.
“Zimbabwe seeks to allocate at least 15 percent of the national budget to the health sector with specific allocation for SHR and family planning by 2030. We also commit to improve allocation from the HIV and Airtime levies to SRH and family planning by at least 5 percent. We also commit to finalise and implement the National Health Scheme (NHS).”
Dr Mudyiradima added that the new commitments will improve youth involvement across sectors through a network of the national youth Act and its National youth commission. The commitments will also promote health for in-school children through implementation of the Zimbabwe school health policy as well as support access to contraception for young people to reduce the high teen pregnancies by 2030.
He also said the new commitments have incorporated climate change and access to health services in disaster hit areas to ensure the country’s capacity to respond to emergencies is improved. The new plan also seeks to address the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse of women and girls in humanitarian situations.
In an interview with HelathTimes on the side-lines of the ongoing summit on ICPD, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative, Dr Esther Muia applauded Zimbabwe for making brief, attainable and realistic commitments to ICPD agenda.
“At this summit, it is very clear that there is no country that has finished ICPD Agenda as set out in 1994, Zimbabwe included. We still have unfinished business and therefore following the discussions we had in the country, the dialogue we had and consultations and government’s input and direction aligned with where Zimbabwe wants to go in 2030, I think I was happy that we just made a few realistic doable commitments that can make a difference to our development agenda in terms of population and development.
“Listening to the commitments, one of the things that really comes out clear is that Zimbabwe is ready and is set to invest more in the demographic bulge of the youthful population. Therefore, the commitments to ensure that adolescent and young people live their fullest and are able to contribute to development in Zimbabwe, I think that is really key,” said Dr Muia.
She added that Zimbabwe has realised numerous gains in the past in line with the ICPD agenda and all was not gloom and doom in terms of access to health and sexual reproductive health in Zimbabwe.
“We have made substantive gains especially in the health sector and the gains we have made, especially if you look at contraceptive prevalence rate being the highest on the continent, we need to maintain that and move a notch higher.
“I am also happy that the government has committed to re look at domestic funding especially through the Airtime levy and AIDS levy. You can’t address HIV and AIDS in a vacuum, the more I look at it, I think it is very important to look at how we can track and monitor these commitments because it is one thing to write them down and another to implement.”
She also said the UNFPA was prepared to work and walk with government, civil society, developments partners and donors to domesticate the programs of action for the ICPD to ensure the commitments translate into tangible results.