Watch how Pathfinder is addressing Pakistan’s high rate of maternal mortality—empowering women to time and space their pregnancies—by building capacity of the government’s powerful cadre of Lady Health Workers.

Photo by Pathfinder Pakistan

Pathfinder strives to meet the needs of underserved populations. In Pakistan, we collaborate with in-country partners to reach women in rural, hard-to-reach areas, who can seldom afford the long journey to the health center.

Photo by Pathfinder Pakistan

Distance is just one barrier. Without the support from community leaders, family planning programs are unlikely to succeed. Here, religious leaders are mobilized to support healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies.

Photo by Pathfinder Pakistan

By expanding access to quality, integrated family planning, maternal, neonatal, and child health services in Pakistan, we can ensure more women and families have access to a range of critical services. We cannot afford to wait…

Photo by Pathfinder Pakistan

A Pakistani woman’s lifetime risk of maternal mortality is 1 in 93. Pathfinder is committed to working with the government of Pakistan and leaders of health to scaling up the interventions that save women’s lives.

Pathfinder works in Pakistan on a range of health issues—from capacity building of frontline health works to ensuring access to family planning—with special focus on ensuring that every pregnancy is safe and every child wanted.

Why Pathfinder Works in Pakistan

Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world with more than 43 million women of reproductive age. With maternal mortality rates estimated to be around 376 per 100,000 live births, approximately one in every 93 women in Pakistan will die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Pakistan also has a high unmet need for family planning at 25 percent, which is largely a result of lack of access to services and lack of trained medical professionals and staff able to provide family planning services, in addition to a high prevalence of misperceptions regarding the use of contraception.

Recognizing Pakistan’s need for reproductive health and family planning services, Pathfinder began working in Pakistan in 1950. Today, with funding from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Pathfinder works to implement programs promoting modern family planning methods, improved awareness of family planning options, and increased contraceptive prevalence. Pathfinder is working in close association with the provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh, as well as various local NGOs, focusing on generating demand for services and increasing awareness of the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy, with the goal of improving the health of mothers and their children.

Pathfinder also works to advocate and build consensus towards implementing the Karachi Declaration, the landmark pledge signed by the Ministries of Health and Population Development in Pakistan in 2009 to promote the scale-up of best practices to improve maternal, child, and neonatal health and family planning. Pathfinder’s advocacy approach in Pakistan includes identifying government provincial “champions” for reproductive health, developing and disseminating advocacy messages, and working with religious leaders and other community leaders to promote health-seeking behaviors.

An estimated 64 of every 1,000 babies born in Pakistan will not survive their first year, which is more than 10 times the rate of developed countries.

Evidence for Decision-Making

A key aspect of Pathfinder’s approach to systems’ strengthening is collecting evidence that enables public, private, and community partners to make informed health-related decisions. In Pakistan, examples of the kinds of evidence we collect to range from the “number of clients redeeming vouchers for private sector services (by family planning method)” and the “number of trained community reformers (religious leaders and teachers) that promoted healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy through community events in the past quarter” to the “number of female health workers trained on family planning counseling, referral, and audience segmentation skills.” Some illustrative data from Pathfinder’s work in Pakistan indicates that from November 2009 to May 2012:

  • 593 female health workers were trained in the area of family planning counseling and referral
  • 49 master trainers, 43 home care providers, 22 religious leaders, and 25 male secondary school teachers have been trained in family planning. These training attendees also supported the development of district strategies to scale up best practices in family planning in 60 districts in Pakistan.
  • Pathfinder reached over 89,000 people in Pakistan with contraceptive services

Building Capacity, Strengthening Systems

Pathfinder is committed to building capacity with government and local partners to integrate high-impact and cost-effective family planning and reproductive health best practices into maternal, neonatal, and child health services throughout Pakistan. Pathfinder has worked strategically to ensure the strengthening of the government’s family planning programs at the provincial and district levels, particularly since Pakistan’s decentralization of the health system in 2010. In partnership with local district government, Pathfinder planned, organized, and facilitated workshops to reinforce best practices in family planning, reproductive health, and postabortion care. These best practices were then used to develop district action plans, which will be implemented in collaboration with provincial governments and district offices to improve services for women and children in 60 districts.

In addition, Pathfinder is working closely with national partners to remedy the acute shortage of qualified healthcare specialists and adequate health facilities in rural areas of the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 70 percent of the population never sees a doctor in their lifetime. To address this gap, Pathfinder has focused heavily on strengthening the capacity and skills of Lady Health Workers—government-trained, community-based primary health care workers, who along with providing health services, are also able to educate and provide family planning methods and maternal and child health services to women in their homes. Pathfinder also works with the Department of Health and other stakeholders to strengthen the health care system by improving monitoring of service delivery and assessment at various supervisory tiers. Training modules developed by Pathfinder have already been adopted by the Pakistan Nursing Council, a national regulatory entity that registers all nurses, midwives, and Lady Health Workers in the country, and are being used by the Punjab Lady Health Workers to standardize service delivery in the areas where they work.


Your support is critical to ensuring our work can continue. Your gift of $25 or $50 helps women and families access contraception, maternal and newborn care services, and a range of other reproductive health services.

Our Projects

Building Blocks for FP2020 in Pakistan and Nigeria

Building Blocks for FP2020 in Pakistan and Nigeria

Contraception & Family Planning

Building Blocks for FP2020 is designed to support and advance family planning in Nigeria and Pakistan, two countries that have made ambitious goals for improving access to reproductive health care in the next decade.

Related Publications

December 2013

The Way We Live: Advancing Health & Rights Through Integration

In a year of remarkable achievement, including Pathfinder’s landmark victory at the US Supreme Court and our return to Bangladesh with a $53.8 million project, what was most exciting? The answer—integration—is the theme of Pathfinder’s 2013 Annual Report.

January 2005

CATALYST - A Compendium of Corporate Social Responsibility Activities Worldwide

From 2000 to 2005, Pathfinder International served as the managing partner of the CATALYST Consortium, a global reproductive health initiative.

Related News

43 percent of pregnancies unintended in Sindh, seminar told

Pathfinder's Tauseef Ahmed, Country Representative in Pakistan, discusses the difficulties the country faces due to its high population.

“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.

World Population Day: Call for concrete measures to curb growth

Pathfinder International head Dr Tauseef Ahmed said that most of the youth was now being dubbed “uneducated, unskilled, and devoid of aspirations”. He said growing population is a cross-cutting issue all over the world, he said.
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