Zimbabwe is among developing countries still suffering from inequality of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, a United Nations agency official said Wednesday.
Speaking at the launch of the State of World Population Report 2017, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) deputy representative for Zimbabwe Yu Yu said several challenges were hampering Zimbabwe’s ability to bridge the inequality gap.
Among the challenges were high maternal mortality, especially among girls, limited access to family planning, high HIV prevalence rate, high rates of teenage pregnancy, lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information among young people and gender-based violence.
“To address these challenges UNFPA is working with a number of civil society partners and the government of Zimbabwe.
“We will continue to work with the government of Zimbabwe to ensure critical investments are made to close the inequality gap,” said Yu.
However, the UNFPA deputy representative said gains had been made, particularly in reducing maternal mortality rates from 960 per 100,000 live births to 651 through investments that ensure women have access to skilled birth attendance.
Yu said inequality in sexual and reproductive health and rights has had negative health impacts on women, such as obstetric fistula, a wound that leaves a hole in the birth canal and is caused by prolonged, obstructed labor.
While it has been virtually eliminated in the world’s wealthier countries and in better-off communities within developing countries, obstetric fistula still persists in poor, developing countries due to weak health systems, poverty, gender inequality, and early marriage and childbearing.
In Zimbabwe, Yu said, the UNFPA is leading the campaign to end obstetric fistula through collaborative effort with partners and the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Since 2009, five fistula repair camps had been conducted, benefiting over 300 women, Yu said.
Family planning was also central to gender equality and women’s empowerment and was a key factor in reducing poverty.
In Zimbabwe, the UNFPA has provided family planning commodities worth over 10 million U.S. dollars in the last four years, Yu said. Enditem