'Girls on birth control unwisely skip condoms'

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MUTARE – High school girls are using birth control at an alarming rate and are less likely to use condoms, making them vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), researchers say.

Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) provincial communication and marketing officer Daniel Maromo told a 2016-2020 strategy sensitisation and dissemination meeting in Mutare last week that some of the youths were now using emergency contraceptives as a daily dose.

Birth control pills, intrauterine and implantable devices are highly effective at reducing unintended pregnancies.

“Youths are abusing emergency contraceptives taking it as a daily dose because they are now more afraid of pregnancy than HIV and other sexually transmitted infections,” Maromo said.

In spite of this, there was still an unacceptably high number of teenage pregnancies.

Zimbabwe has a 14,7 percent prevalence rate — one of the highest in the subregion and sees over

20 000 new infections every month.

The ZNFPC strategy is being rolled out nationally as the parastatal responds to calls to step up interventions to address the nagging problems of early and unplanned teenage pregnancies, maternal mortality and HIV infections especially among young girls.

ZNPFC Manicaland provincial manager Dyson Masvingise said the strategy can meet these objectives through effective and efficient implementation of the blue print.

“The strategy and cost implementation plan aims to improve on efficiency and effectiveness in the provision of family planning services in line with the government’s commitment made at the London Family Planning 2020 Global Summit in 2012,” Masvingise said.

The organisation requires $180 million over the next three years to operationalise the strategy.

Masvingise said central to the strategy was a push for a progressive shift towards use of long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC’s).

“Modelling studies on the cost-benefit of family planning have shown that if investments are made to increase uptake of long acting reversible contraceptives, the health system will save for each dollar spent on family planning interventions,” he said.

He said the strategy is expected to prevent at least three million unintended pregnancies by 2020.

“The expected results after a full financing and implementation will result in prevention of 3 million unintended pregnancies, 65,6 percent to 68 percent increase in contraceptive prevalence rate, avert more than  90 000 abortions, 10 percent to 6,5 percent reduction of unmet need…and avert more than 33 000 child mortality,” said Masvingise.

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