ZNFPC Engages Parliament Over Teen Pregnancies And Child Marriages

THE Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) has met the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education where they presented challenges faced by adolescents and young people in accessing Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services.

By Patricia Mashiri

The meeting was a precursor to the numerous other assemblies scheduled for the no so distant future where they intend to find lasting solutions to the growing burden of early child marriages and teenage pregnancies.

In her presentation,Fadzai Mandishona, the ZNFPC Programme Officer Adolescents Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) said there was need to address the growing scourge of teen pregnancies and early marriages especially amongst the school going age groups.

There has been an increase in early child bearing before age 18 from 22.4% in 2014 to 24.1% in 2019. Those with primary education have a higher birth rate (175 births per 1000 girls) while those with higher education have a lower birth rate (21 births per 1 000 girls). An increase in child marriages before the age of 15 from 4.9% in 2014 to 5.4% in 2019 as well as an increase in child marriages before the age of 18 from 32.8% in 2014 to 33.7% in 2019. The major key drivers of ASRH challenges are poverty, lack of access to information on ASRH, inadequate and relevant service delivery, inadequate policy and regulatory framework,” said Mandishona.

She added that ZNFPC was engaging legislators with the aim of amplifying their voice and ensuring attention is paid to the issues as well as lobby for increased funding towards SRH issues. Zimbabwe relies heavily on donor organisations for medical drugs and equipment.

Hounarable Ophias Murambiwa, Member of Parliament Zaka West said there was a great need for legislators to look into policies that could be implemented to protect adolescents and young children.

“Discipline in schools is a problem. Children come to school with drugs, knives and some are having sexual activities in classes. Teachers are failing to control these kids in schools. Some of our policies are in a way promoting what is happening in schools. We need to relook into these policies, “said Honourable Murambiwa.

Meanwhile, Varaidzo Sosa, a Peer educator said Zimbabwe need to address challenges facing ASHR which include harmful cultural practices, shortage of sporting facilities among others.

“There is need for integration of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in the school curriculum of student teachers,” said Sosa.

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