Barriers to access to contraceptives for adolescent girls in rural Zimbabwe as a human rights challenge
Maziwisa, Michelle Rufaro
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Approximately 214 million women in developing countries between ages 15 and 49 have an unmet need for contraception.1 In Zimbabwe, 12% of unmarried adolescent girls have an unmet need for contraception. Contraceptive use among adolescents is 46%, compared to the national average of 67%.2 The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 810 women die daily (295,650 per year) due to preventable pregnancy-related and child birth related causes, and this risk is worse for girls aged 10–14.3 Persons aged 15–24 constitute 20% of Zimbabwe’s population. Moreover, 42% of women of reproductive age and 34% of maternal deaths in Zimbabwe are within this age-group, while HIV prevalence in ante-natal young women is 27%.4 However, young people are reluctant to obtain sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services due to systemic and legal barriers. If these barriers are not addressed, many rural adolescent girls will forfeit economic advancement and risk early pregnancies and child marriages, maternal mortality and morbidity, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).