The First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has commended the partnership between the Population Services Zimbabwe (PSZ) and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) saying it bridges the gap and addresses challenges faced by women in accessing modern family planning methods and resources.

Speaking at the launch of the Belvedere Population Services, the First Lady said sexual and reproductive health services like family planning, cervical cancer screening management of STIs and other related services should be integrated to offer a one stop shop for women.

She also expressed her passion and commitment to making an impact on women’s health as evidenced by her cancer screening campaign and outreach programme.

Amai Mnangagwa said past successes stemmed from a mutually beneficial relationship between PSZ and government through the implementation of complementary programmes in association with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC).

She said these linkages have scaled up the provision of modern family planning methods and empowered women in sexual health issues.

“Population Services Zimbabwe has an extensive national reach, with service delivery channels in all the country’s ten provinces and 63 districts in Zimbabwe. Despite uncertain funding landscape and other challenges last year, more than 403 000 women received a contraceptive method by the PSZ,” said the First Lady.

She commended the growth but expressed concern over unmet need still evident in rural areas and young adults.

The First Lady expressed concern that the uptake of long acting and permanent methods is still very limited and is estimated at 11 percent of the modern contraceptive prevalence rate total, an indication that there is still more work to be done in raising awareness regarding family planning information.

She paid tribute to the Swedish government for coming on board and exhorted Zimbabweans to stamp out child marriages to reduce incidences of teenage pregnancies which account for a fifth of all pregnancies in the country.

She emphasized the importance of having planned families saying most unplanned families are living in dire poverty and most children born from unplanned families are not going to school.

The First Lady called on men to be involved in family planning saying they should assist women to choose and access methods of family planning methods particularly those meant for men, like vasectomy.

She revealed that the SIDA partnership is going to enable PSZ to support and strengthen at least 60 public rural health facilities in Zimbabwe.

The First Lady urged youths to delay sexual activities and invest their energies in advancing their education for a better Zimbabwe.

Population Services Zimbabwe Country Director, Mr Adebe Shibru said despite the successes of increasing access to family planning services there is still a gap in accessing underserved communities and addressing the unmet needs.

Zimbabwe made a commitment to achieve universal access to reproductive health services and reduce the unmet needs for family planning from 13 percent to 6.5 percent by 2020.

It also committed itself to double the family planning budget including procurement of contraceptive commodities from the current 1.7 to 3 percent of the health budget.

PSZ aims at ensuring that every birth is planned through availing reproductive health choices and complements the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the ZNFPC in providing a wide range of high quality, integrated, affordable and client centred sexual and reproductive health information and services to women, men and young population.

The organisation operates 10 static clinics predominantly in urban areas and nine mobile outreach teams covering all the ten provinces of Zimbabwe.

It has added partnerships with 140 private health facilities to enable them to increase access to health facilities for increased access to high quality family planning services for women and men in need.