Ministry of National Development Planning Permanent Secretary Mulenga Mushuma says there is need for the country to substantially lower both birth and child death rates.
Mr Mushuma said Zambia like most countries in sub-Saharan Africa is in the second stage of the demographic transition, characterized by declining death rates and persistently high birth rate which are declining at a very slow pace.
Speaking during the official launch of the State of World Population 2018 in Lusaka yesterday, he stated that it has taken nearly two decades for the fertility rate to fall marginally.
Mr Mushuma called for citizens to make real choices on their reproductive health on how many children they should have and when as that influence a country’s fertility levels as well as its demographic transition.
He stated that the transition from a high to low mortality and fertility rates is the first key step towards a demographic dividend which is the economic benefit arising from a significant increase in the ratio of working-aged adults relative to young dependents.
Mr Mushuma added that the theme of “power of choice: Reproductive rights and the demographic transition “shows that choice can improve the well-being of women and girls and transform families and accelerate global and national development.
He said reproductive rights are integral for the realization of all sustainable development goals and that the extent to which an individual exercises their reproductive rights has a direct impact on fertility.
Mr Mushuma revealed that the country has continued to make strides in advancing reproductive health and rights for all.
He noted that modern contraceptive prevalence has increased from 9 percent in 1992 to 45 percent in 2014, while skilled birth attendants have increased to 64 percent from 43 percent in 2001.
Speaking at the same event, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Country Representative Gift Malunga called upon the country to make informed decisions as the citizens have that power in them.
Ms Malunga said the global trend towards smaller families reflects people making reproductive choices to have as few or as many children as they want.
She explained that when people lack choices, it can have a long-term impact on fertility rates, often making them higher or lower than what most people desire.
Ms Malunga added that family size is closely linked with reproductive rights, which in turn are tied to many other rights such as the right to adequate health, education and jobs.
She noted that choice can change the world as it can rapidly improve the well-being of women and girls, transform families and accelerate global development.