“Lack of awareness, bias of service providers, lack of requisitioning, no proper study done regarding its uptake” are further major barriers to ECP use, Tauseef Ahmed, country representative of Pathfinder International, a family planning and reproductive health NGO, tells SciDev.Net.
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“You can earn demographic dividend only if you invest in health (that included reproductive health and family planning), education, employment opportunities and good governance,” Dr Tauseef Ahmed of Pathfinder said, adding that governance based on merit-based decisions and accountability was the backbone of the process.
Focus Area: Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health
Family Planning: Coverage, Access to Services Poor, Says Report by Pathfinder International and UNFPA
Tauseef Ahmed, Pathfinder International’s country representative said, “Devolution was done in a hurry without capacity-building of provincial counterparts for their new responsibilities.” Family planning is the right of every woman and by depriving them, you’re putting their lives at stake, he added.
According to Pathfinder's study, the targets and goals related to family planning have not been achieved due to lack of clear policies, planning, a governance mechanism and limited coordination among relevant stakeholders. It also mentioned that coverage and access was found lacking as the departments of health did not own the program.
Tauseef said that during the last decade Pakistan’s family planning program was never given due priority in terms of perspective plan implementation. He emphasized that Pakistan needed ‘political will’ to re-design family planning services to reach out all needy women. “We should have a clear and comprehensive policy to be managed by a commission with full authority,” he said.
Pakistan has a very high maternal mortality ratio implying more than 15,000 mother lose their lives in the process of giving birth. It is state’s responsibility to protect the lives of mothers. If Pakistani mothers are to live a health life then provision of family planning becomes their right—right to access and to choose and right to use.
Investing in women’s health not only improves her life, but the quality of life of her family, community and eventually her country. More than half of the world’s unpaid labour comes from women, therefore, their contribution needs to be recognised.
“Couples continue to suffer due to lack of awareness of modern family planning methods. Six percent of mothers of all ages die due to unsafe abortions. Keeping these facts in mind, the event focused on having a discussion on what should be done to address and eventually eradicate these maladies."
“We have committed a lot but funding support toward the achievement of these is quite insufficient. With this pace of growth and lack of family planning policy it is difficult for Pakistan to achieve the targets by 2015, rather it would require the next 10 years to do achieve these goals,” Tauseef Ahmed, Pathfinder's Pakistan Country Representative, said.
On a visit to St Paul's Hospital's Cervical Cancer Prevention Unit working under Pathfinder, a starkly simple solution for early detection of cervical cancer in an economical and effective manner stared at me. The Unit consisted of three tiny rooms with the simple most equipment, and an old steel bed for patients. A senior nurse professional met us, who heads the small team responsible for detection of the earliest signs of cervical cancer of so many women, and in turn saving their lives.
Focus Area: Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Tauseef Ahmed, Country Representative Pathfinder International said after consultation with religious scholars, a draft of sermons has been formulated, which will soon be published and distributed among all seminaries affiliated with Wafaqul Madaris at local and district levels. These sermons contain 10 topics, including planning in family welfare in Islam, relationship between husband and wife, importance of nikkah and related issues, reproductive health, safe motherhood, breastfeeding and teachings rights of children in Islam among others.
Speaking on the occasion, Pathfinder International's Country Director Dr Tauseef Ahmed said, "Pakistan has steadily improved family planning services over time but the progress has been limited due to absence of a holistic approach and poor use of evidence for programmatic development."