Zim faces birth control pill shortage

HARARE - Zimbabwe is facing a serious shortage of birth control pills and government is seized with the matter to ensure the situation does not get out of hand.

In short supply, particularly in the rural areas, is the Marvelon tablet — a type of hormonal oral contraceptive, commonly known as a “birth control pill or combined oral contraceptives”.

The drug is taken by mouth like the control pill tablet with the objective of preventing pregnancy.

This was revealed in Parliament by Bulawayo MDC senator Siphiwe Ncube, who inquired from Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa what government was doing to address the shortages at clinics.

“We hear there is a shortage of the birth control pill that is called Marvelon. What plans do you have (to make it readily available) because a lot of women are going to the clinics and that pill is not found?” Ncube asked.

Parirenyatwa admitted that there was shortage of such pill and said the government was working to improve the situation.

“It is true that some contraceptive tablets, from time to time, we have shortages and that worries us because women get used to a particular type of tablet and it is good that continuity is there.

“In this particular case, we are in the process of making sure that the particular pill that she is talking about is made available as soon as possible because it is important that all the rural areas get the same type of tablet that is received there because a lot of our drugs come as donations and we are very careful that we have some continuity so that a woman does not jump from one tablet to another. That is why sometimes you get some of these shortages.”

Recently, government tasked the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) to investigate alleged smuggling of contraceptives to South Africa.

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.

Reports say dealers sell the pills to women who do not want contraceptives dispensed by South African health authorities.

North of the Limpopo River, the Oralcon pill, which is disbursed for free, is available, but most women, particularly Zimbabwean migrants, prefer the Marvelon.

The pills are smuggled out of local hospitals allegedly by staff and sold to traders at around $0,50. They are then resold for between R20 and R30 compared to the around R130 charged by South African pharmacies.

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

Parirenyatwa recently 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 South Africa and Zimbabwe on how to address the matter.

ZNFPC, which is battling the increased selling of family planning pills on the streets, distributes Marvelon — supplied by the United Nations Children’s Fund — to hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.

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Comments (2)

No problem - just go back to the old fashioned TUBE

errol flynn - 25 June 2017

Point of correction, it`s unfortunate that the journalist did not do a thorough investigation. He could have discovered that Marvelon was meant to be used until August/September 2017 when it all expires. Women will no longer be given Marvelon but Control pills which is the oral contraceptive the country was using before introducing Marvelon. If you got to a hospital or clinic and found Marvelon not in stock then kudos and job welldone to our health facility staff as it means all the Marvelon stock they had was dispensed to their clients and hopefully not smuggled to South Africa before they expire in August/September 2017. I should also let the journalist know that where you found no Marvelon, you should have also checked if they had no Control pills as the country is moving from Marvelon and switching back to Control pills. As a matter of fact our women prefer Control pill to Marvelon. Wherever, Marvelon runs out it`s being replaced with Control pills. Therefore, where you did not find Marvelon ,it doesnt necessarily mean they didn`t have Control to give their clients. Yes stock outs are happening here and there but there is adequate supplies of the oral contraceptives in the country. It`s making them available at a health facility when required by a client that needs to be improved. So, please research adequately before writing, otherwise, you will make our women panic in fear of unwanted pregnancies and risk to STIs.

princezim01 - 25 June 2017

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