Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
Mashonaland Central Province is topping in teenage pregnancies at 31 percent, while Harare has recorded the least at 10 percent, statistics released by the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) have shown.
Statistics for 2015 also show that rural teenagers were most vulnerable when compared to their urban counterparts.
According to statistics presented by ZNFPC executive director Dr Munyaradzi Murwira at a family planning symposium held in Harare recently to celebrate the World Population Day, Matabeleland South Province is second with 30 percent. Manicaland Province is third with 28 percent while Matabeleland North is fourth with 26 percent.
On the fifth position is Mashonaland East Province, which recorded 25 percent while the Midlands Province was sixth with 24 percent. Mashonaland West Province recorded 20 percent, Masvingo Province was eighth with 18 percent and Bulawayo Province 12 percent.
Dr Murwira said teenage pregnancies were higher in rural areas as compared to urban areas in 2015. “Of note is that in 2015 teenage pregnancy rates in rural areas are almost three times more than in urban areas.
“In the urban areas it was 10 percent while in rural areas it was 27 percent. The national average was 22 percent. So, it means almost a quarter of adolescents had begun child bearing,” he said.
Dr Murwira said the ZNFPC was facing various challenges in rolling out family planning programmes. These include inadequate funding, dependence on donors for commodity security, limited coverage of the youth programme and socio-cultural beliefs.
Dr Murwira also cited outdated national policies related to family planning and sexual reproductive health like the Reproductive Health Policy and the Population Policy as some of the major challenges they faced in executing their programmes.
He said there was need for advocacy on the importance of family planning in improving maternal and child health, reducing HIV and AIDS. “The integration of family planning, sexual reproductive health and HIV/AIDS will ensure quality and comprehensive services to all people — including young people, the marginalised and under-served communities.
“Achieving our targets for FP2020 will avert an estimated 780 000 unintended pregnancies; 110 000 abortions and 4 200 maternal deaths,” said Dr Murwira.
“Therefore, there is need for significant Government funding for the family planning programme complimented by donors and the private sector.
“Investing in family planning is critical for the empowerment of women and girls and for sustainable national development.”