Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
ZIMBABWE is facing a countrywide shortage of family planning pills due to procurement challenges which will only be addressed next month.
The pills are one of the most preferred family planning methods in the country and pharmacies and other private institutions are not spared from the crisis.
In a survey conducted by The Chronicle, most pharmacies in Bulawayo indicated that they had gone for more than three weeks without the pill.
Zimbabwe National family Planning Council Matabeleland regional officer Mr Blessed Gumbi said the shortages were due to procurement challenges.
“We are running dry on contraceptives and it’s a countrywide crisis that we are struggling to contain. We have nothing in our stocks and at Zimbabwe National Pharmaceuticals which affects pharmacies as they normally buy from us,” said Mr Gumbi.
“However, we are expecting a shipment at the beginning of September and we are hopeful that will improve the situation”.
He said breast feeding women were not affected as there are a few Secure pills in circulation which are accessible.
“We are short of the Control pills, the most used by women but we still have low supplies of the Secure pills which are accessible. However, Secure pills are on demand compared to the Control hence the challenge,” Mr Gumbi said.
He urged members of the public to approach health institutions for alternative methods while waiting for the pills.
“In family planning we offer a wide range of services which include short acting, long acting and permanent methods. Women can approach their health providers for more information about available methods of contraception, including condom use, where they will be given appropriate information about advantages and disadvantages of the different methods available so that they can then make informed decisions,” Mr Gumbi said.
Zimbabwe has made huge progress in the provision of Family Planning for women but more efforts are required to ensure access for even those in the remotest parts of the country,
The Contraceptive Prevalence rate (CPR), that is the proportion of women aged 15-49 using family planning, is at about 67 percent today, an improvement from 59 percent in 2010.
This is one of the highest on the continent but there remains unmet needs among women and girls of reproductive age, the majority of them in rural settings and often young according to the United Nations Population Fund. — @thamamoe