By Phyllis Mbanje
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has expressed concern at the high number of women dying during childbirth and pledged government’s commitment to halt the trend.
Officially opening the Hopley Tariro Clinic and youth centre, Mnangagwa said the current scenario where 651 deaths per 100 000 live births were being recorded was unacceptable for any nation.
“We are concerned by the high mortality rate in Zimbabwe and as government we take note of this and are committed to ensuring safe motherhood through a number of ways which include skills training for midwives and doctors as well as supply of essential medical equipment,” he said.
Mnangagwa also read the riot act to those who engaged in child marriages and warned that the law would take its course on such individuals.
“But I am disappointed and worried, according to statistics given by the Finance minister, that about 18 percent of the young girls in this locality give birth
and get married before they are 18 years of age. We now have a law, listen carefully, which specifies that it is illegal to marry or be married before age of
18. Boys and girls I have spoken. If you resist and say we were lying you will soon realise the truth at Chikurubi Prison,” he said.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said it was important to harness the demographic dividend and support the young people who constituted the larger percentage of
“Seventy five percent of the population are youths and our task is to harness that demographic dividend like what has been done here at Tariro,” Ncube said.
The community centre was built by the Youth for the Community of Hopley. Construction of the community centre was enabled through assistance from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and International Labour Organisation and Lafarge Zimbabwe, while UNFPA also supported the training of 100 young women and men in various trades that included building, plumbing, carpentry, electrics and cobblestone technology among others.
The youths were engaged by the City of Harare as apprentices to build the clinic and multi-purpose youth centre. The centre seeks to support young people in Hopely to lead healthy and productive lives by reducing unintended pregnancies, early marriages and unmet need for family planning, incidences of HIV, cervical cancer, dropping out of school, while creating employment opportunities.
The opening of the facility coincided with the 50th anniversary of the World Population Day.
Mnangagwa said the commemorations came at a time the country is preparing for the 2022 census set to give updated figures of the country’s population. UNFPA country representative Esther Muia said no woman should die while giving birth.