Zimbabwe launches preliminary DHS findings

9 June 2016
While gender-based violence is declining in Zimbabwe, more than one in three women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 years. © UNFPA / Margret Masanga

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe is improving access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services, but more effort is required to consolidate these gains and invest in other areas that are still lagging behind. This is according to the latest findings from the 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS).

Maternal mortality is declining.

The ZDHS is an important household-based survey that collects reliable and timely demographic and health data, which can support the formulation of the country’s development policies and programmes.

On maternal health, the ZDHS showed that the maternal mortality ratio has declined from 960 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 651 deaths per 100,000 live births.

The Government of Zimbabwe’s target is to reduce maternal mortality to 326/100,000 by 2020. The ZDHS also reported an increase in skilled birth attendance at delivery, from 66 per cent in 2010 to 78 per cent in 2015, while the percentage of women making at least four or more Antenatal Care (ANC) visits increased from 65 per cent in the last ZDHS to 76 per cent in 2015.

Teen fertility remains high

Nearly one in ten adolescent girls give birth every year.

The ZDHS preliminary findings on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) show that the adolescent fertility rate remains high among girls in the 15-19 years age group, with nearly one in ten giving birth every year. Adolescent pregnancy varies widely according to wealth, geographic location and education. For example, teenage fertility is twice as high among girls with only primary education as those with secondary education.

On a positive note, more young people are taking better care to protect themselves against HIV. The ZDHS reported that 66 per cent of young men who had more than one partner in the past 12 months used a condom, compared to 50 per cent in 2010.

We stand committed to ensuring all women realize their full potential through equitable access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and services.
– Cheikh Tidiane Cisse, UNFPA Country Representative

Positive results were also reflected in the area of gender-based violence (GBV), with the percentage of women who experienced violence in the past 12 months decreasing from 18 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent in 2015. Another key finding is that women with secondary education experienced less violence compared to those with primary education; therefore, education appears to be a protective factor for women. However, cause for concern is that more than one in three women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 years.

Increase in family planning use

Zimbabwe Statistical Agency Director-General Mutasa Dzinotizei. © UNFPA / Margret Masanga

Regarding family planning, a 14 per cent increase in the use of modern contraceptive methods was reflected for married women and a 25 per cent increase for married girls aged 15-19 years. Although the family planning method mix remains dominated by the pill, the use of implants more than doubled in the past five years, from almost 3 per cent to close to 10 per cent. This is the result of national efforts to promote long-acting family planning methods.

In the past year, the data showed a 50 per cent increase in testing for HIV among both women and men. HIV testing among women in the 15-49 age group increased from 49 per cent five years ago to close to 80 per cent in 2015, while for men in the same age group the figure increased from 36 per cent in 2010 to 62 per cent. Although the mean number of lifetime sexual partners did not change significantly and the percentage of men having multiple sexual partners increased from 11 to 14 per cent between 2010 and 2015, the results show that protective behaviours such as condom use among young men with multiple partners increased by one third.

At the launch of the 2015 ZDHS, Zimbabwe Statistical Agency Director-General Mutasa Dzinotizei said the findings from the survey would help the government and development partners develop relevant health-related programmes and interventions.

Progress is commendable

UNFPA Country Representative Cheikh Tidiane Cisse thanks development partners for their support to UNFPA.
© UNFPA / Margret Masanga

UNFPA Country Representative Cheikh Tidiane Cisse said the progress in areas such as maternal health, HIV testing, access to family planning and gender-based violence was commendable. “We should celebrate these achievements, but we must not relax as there is still more work for us to do and more investments are needed. The 2015 ZDHS has brought key findings that will inform our work and help us reflect on some of the areas where we need to invest more and areas where gains need to be consolidated,” he said.

UNFPA Zimbabwe was proud to be supporting the Government of Zimbabwe with interventions that have contributed towards this progress, he said. “Our heart-felt gratitude goes to development partners who continue to support our programmes and ensure we improve the lives of women and young people in Zimbabwe. As UNFPA, we stand committed to ensuring all women realize their full potential through equitable access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and services.”

The ZDHS was supported by the Australian Agency for International Development, the European Union, the Government of Sweden, IRISH Aid, the Royal Danish Embassy, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (UKaid).

Fact sheets

ZDHS 2015 Preliminary Report
ZDHS 2015 Key Findings Gender-Based Violence
ZDHS 2015 Key Findings Maternal Health
ZDHS 2015 Key Findings HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health
ZDHS 2015 Key Findings Family Planning
ZDHS 2015 Key Findings Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health

By Bertha Shoko