Govt probes contraceptives smuggling

HARARE - Government has tasked the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) to investigate alleged smuggling of contraceptives to South Africa (SA).

According to reports, there is a thriving market for the Marvelon family planning pills in the neighbouring country — where multitudes of Zimbabweans have migrated to — as dealers sell them to women who do not want contraceptives dispensed by South African health authorities.

In SA, the Oralcon pill, which is disbursed for free, is available, but most women, particularly Zimbabwean migrants, prefer the Marvelon.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa said ZNFPC — a parastatal mandated to coordinate, provide and monitor family planning in the country — was expected to give a full report on the issue, which will guide both SA and Zimbabwe on how to address the matter.

“. . . ZNFPC’s . . . full report will enable us to coordinate across the border,” he said.

The family planning council distributes Marvelon — supplied by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) — to hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.

The pills are then smuggled out of hospitals allegedly by staff and sold to the traders at around $0,50.

They are then resold for between R20 and R30 compared to the around R130 charged by SA pharmacies.

The contraceptives are also smuggled to Botswana and Namibia, according to media reports. 

Back home, ZNFPC is battling the increased selling of family planning pills on the streets.

“Most of them (pills) have already expired or they have been rendered ineffective because of the conditions of storage.

“We are appealing to the public to report those people who are buying and those who are selling the contraceptive pills to the nearest police, ZNFPC officials or Health and Child Care ministry officials,” a statement on council’s website reads.

“ . . . the correct distribution points of family planning commodities are ZNFPC clinics, municipal or city council clinics, rural district councils, mission clinics, rural health centres, hospitals, community health workers and known non-governmental organisations operating in your areas,” it advised.

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