Monday, December 30, 2013

Zambia still has high fertility - Kaseba
By Fridah Nkonde
Fri 08 Nov. 2013, 14:01 CAT

FIRST lady Christine Kaseba says Zambia still has high fertility and unmet family planning needs against a backdrop of high poverty levels. During the launch of the national family planning eight-year scale-up plan in Lusaka on Wednesday, Dr Kaseba said the plan gave Zambians a unique opportunity to transform the lives of millions of women and men.

"Once funded and implemented, this plan will not only save lives but save the country millions of much-needed kwacha needed for Zambia's development. I am confident that this plan will be used to lobby for support from cooperating partners who pledged a total amount of US$2.6 billion to support developing countries successfully implement family planning programmes from 2012 to 2020," Dr Kaseba said.

She said increasing access to family planning creates proven benefits in women's health, child survival and HIV prevention.

Dr Kaseba said universal access to family planning was a human right, central to gender equality and women's empowerment, and a key factor in reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

"A well planned family size leads to social economic prosperity at family and subsequently at national level. Conversely, a family that is not well planned is at high risk of leading a miserable social economic life with a high risk of malnutrition and increased disease burden. The social and reproductive health indicators as they stand today paint a very gloomy picture but I am positive that with investment, individual and collective commitment, hard work and collaboration, we can start reversing these statistics," she said.

Dr Kaseba said rapid population growth impedes economic growth and made it difficult to achieve improvements in education, health and environmental quality.

She said 27 per cent of married women had an unmet need for family planning, adding that it was unacceptable that such a high number of women and girls had continued to die from pregnancy complications and lack of family planning services.

Dr Kaseba said 42 per cent of pregnancies in Zambia were unintended, adding that 16 per cent of them were unwanted.

She said family planning would reduce pressure on the fragile economy and that it could facilitate opportunities for economic development.

And UNFPA representative Dr Mary Otieno said Zambia would be a model in Africa if it successfully followed the eight-year plan.

Dr Otieno said women in Zambia were destined to have a good future because of the commitment that the government had shown towards women issues.

She said there was need for women to have children by choice and not by chance.

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