MANICALAND TOPS TEEN PREGNANCIES
Manicaland has recorded the highest teenage pregnancy prevalence rates in the country, statistics from the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) show.
The province’s prevalence rate at 27 percent is above the national average of 22 percent.
Speaking at an adolescence sxual reproductive health forum held in Mutare recently, ZNFPC provincial marketing and communication officer Mr Daniel Maromo said despite receiving a significant supply of contraceptives, the level of teenage pregnancies in the province remained high, especially in rural areas.
“Manicaland province has topped the teenage pregnancy list, especially in areas such as Fombe and Marange,” he said. “We are working towards reducing this problem to 12 percent by 2020.”
Incidences of teenage pregnancies have progressively risen over the past three years as the province once had the third highest number of teenage pregnancies.
The current prevalence rate is one percentage point lower than the 28 percent rate recorded in 2015.
Mr Maromo said there was need to increase the availability of contraceptives to young girls.
“The family planning strategy indicates that we also need to increase contraceptive business rates,” he said.
“As a province, we are working towards preventing teenage pregnancies. We are supplying 59 percent contraceptives against the national supply of 65,6 percent, but we are driving towards 68 percent by 2020.”
Mr Maromo said statistics showed that young girls in rural areas were indulging in sexual activities more than their urban counterparts.
His organisation, he said, was worried about the presence of teenage prostitutes in beerhalls in rural areas, which was contributing to the high prevalence rates.
“Youths need knowledge when it comes to using contraceptives,” he said. “We have found out that youth are abusing contraceptives.
“However, religious and cultural issues that increase the vulnerability of young people should be taken care of. There are some religious sects in areas such as Marange, which allow child marriages and these should be stopped.”
Mr Maromo said polygamy, which is an accepted culture in Manicaland, especially in areas such as Marange and Chipinge, had also increased teenage pregnancies as most second wives were teenagers.
He said Manicaland has a 16 percent polygamy rate against a national average of 11 percent.
Ministry of Womens’ Affairs representative Ms Linda Nyamidzi said Government efforts to curb child marriages had been met with resistance in some parts of the province.
“Most teenage girls in some religious sects in Marange are victims of child marriages,” she said. “Their elder husbands hide them from the police who come to rescue them. And most of them are also afraid to disclose such cases.
“Empower youths with projects that will make them financially independent because we have seen cases of older women who are going after young boys. This shows that both boys and girls are potential victims of abuse.”