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to legally get contraceptives
Sharon Kavhu, The Sunday Mail
September 23, 2013
View this article
on The Sunday Mail website
of Health and Child Care is pushing for the introduction of a legal
framework to support the distribution of contraceptives to “adolescents”
aged between 10 and 24 under an ongoing initiative that officials
say is designed to curtail teenage pregnancies.
Among the contraceptives are birth control pills, implants, injectables
centres countrywide are already dispensing contraceptives to adolescents
through the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC). However,
a legal framework is required to align laws concerning sexual relations
involving minors with the policy.
In an interview
last week, the director of family health in the Ministry of Health
and Child Care, Dr Bernard Madzima, said authorities took the decision
following a sharp increase in teenage pregnancies and a high maternal
Dr Madzima said
those who visit designated dispensaries are first counselled before
the contraceptives are issued. The World Health Organisation defines
adolescents as those between the ages of 10 and 24.
framework for the National Adolescence Sexual and Reproductive Health
Strategy (ASRH) for 2010 to 2015 allows adolescents to access contraceptives
although the country’s legislation sues any individual who
indulges in sexual activities with a girl under the age of 16.
from the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) and Ministry
of Health and Child Welfare parastatals show that the number of
teenage pregnancies is high and continues to increase.
concerned as a ministry. So, therefore, we want to strengthen the
Dr Madzima said many sexually active adolescents hardly visit youth
centres, fearing legal and policy contradictions and would only
freely access contraceptives once the legal framework is in place.
He said the ministry could not ignore the existence of sexually
active youngsters given the numerous teenage pregnancies.
adolescents are being sexually active. Some have actually gone on
to become parents,” he said.
the policy, ZNFPC technical services director Dr Edmore Munongo
said the council has set up 91 centres to offer “youth-friendly
services”, which also enable adolescents to access the contraceptives.
Of these centres,
65 are located at hospitals while the remainder comprises stand-alone
sites. They provide counselling, HIV and Aids testing and also treat
sexually transmitted infections.
Dr Munongo said
boys constituted 60 percent of visitors to the centres.
bid to implement the Ministry of Health and Child Care ASRH framework,
which advocates adolescent access to contraceptives, we have so
far managed to put up 26 youth centres and 65 youth corner centres
youth corner centres are established at Government hospitals while
the youth centres are built outside the hospitals, usually in remote
of the adolescents showing interest in the youth centres are boys
as they constitute at least 60 percent of our clients.
are the most vulnerable. This is mainly due to culture and social
expectations. This is a challenge for us to strengthen our programme.
So, there is need to convince parents first through the enactment
of a law. Most of them (females) prefer the pill method. However,
we encourage them to take double contraceptives where they use both
condoms and other contraceptive methods.”
the United Nations Population Fund, adolescent girls aged between
15 and 19 constitute a quarter of the 960 Zimbabwean females who
die as a result of pregnancy-related complications annually.
Demographic and Health Survey shows teenage pregnancies have increased
from 21 percent between 2005 and 2006 to 24 percent between 2010
and 2011. The Ministry of Health and Child Care subsequently launched
the ASRH (2010-2015) programme to reduce teenage pregnancy and sexually
transmitted infections through increased ASRH knowledge and access
health and HIV and Aids consultant Dr Caroline Maposhere said every
parent would not want his or her child to indulge in sex before
marriage. She said it was, however, a fact that some young people
were sexually active.
parent, I would not want my child to be sexually active before marriage,
but, in reality, there are single adolescents who are having sex
and such individuals need to have more knowledge on sexual reproductive
health,” said Dr Maposhere.
essential for these adolescents to access counselling and contraceptives.
“For instance, currently, teenagers above 16 years can access
contraceptives on their own while those below 16 should access with
adolescents need to take responsible decisions after being equipped
with enough information on the repercussions of their activities.”
Council communications officer Mr Innocent Katsande said the council
was keen to participate in decisions that the ministry makes as
long as they were protecting youths and their health.
council and on behalf of the Junior Parliament, we are pushing for
abstinence among adolescents because it is the safest method of
combating teenage pregnancy and STIs. We also encourage our stakeholders
to put value on the educational system so that adolescents may grow
with cultural values which dissuade them from being sexually active
before marriage,” said Mr Katsande.
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