Ensuring that all women and men of reproductive age have access to quality Family Planning (FP) services is a priority for Zimbabwe, as it contributes towards the nation’s health and social development goals. Increased access to FP has many essential benefits for individuals, families, societies and the nation at large.
By ensuring universal access to reproductive health including FP the nation reduces levels of maternal mortality, infant mortality, teenage pregnancies and the resulting unsafe abortions. Planned births will result in savings in maternal and child health care. Ultimately the country benefits in the form of broad-based economic growth, a productive and educated workforce and a growing middle class.
Family Planning is one of the key pillars to ensure safe motherhood. Access to information and services enable women and men the voluntary ability to space births, benefiting the mother’s and children’s health and the community as a whole. It also reduces the risk of death and disability associated with pregnancy and childbirth too early, too often or too late in a woman’s life.
Women who have fewer risky births, healthier pregnancies and safer deliveries have lower risks of death. They have more chances of improved overall health. These improvements produce economic benefits: greater investments in schooling, greater productivity and labour force participation and eventually, increased income, savings, investments and asset accumulation.
More than two thirds of Zimbabwe’s population are young people. Approximately 1 in 10 adolescent girls give birth every year between the ages 15-19 years according to the ZDHS 2015 Report. Pregnancy and child birth related complications are the number one killers of girls aged 15 to 19 years. Some of these girls are married whilst others are not. They all require more information and services to manage their reproductive lives. Information and services will protect young people’s lives as they will be empowered to make informed decisions. The more information they have, the better choices they can make to be able to fulfil their future aspirations. This is a benefit to them and to the nation as a whole as they will be able to contribute to the economic development of the country.
When a woman plans her family, she plans her life and will be more productive. She can pursue advances in education, seek and keep better jobs and contribute more to her family, community and the nation as a whole. As she becomes better- off financially, her children receive better education, and the benefits carry over well into future generations cutting the cycle of poverty while advancing the rights of women.
People have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children. Family Planning is therefore not about limiting couples or individuals but allowing them the choice on whether or when to have children, the number and how to space them. Family Planning is essential to overcoming poverty, which worsens when individuals cannot choose the size of their family. There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that family planning is a development strategy for improving health and wellbeing while reducing poverty and empowering women. An understanding of timing and spacing of pregnancies is essential in empowering people and developing nations.