Islamabad: There is a need for comprehensive and multi-faceted strategies to improve access to reproductive healthcare services for young mothers and their families. The low social status of women and lack of family planning information and services contribute to the reproductive health challenges for women, especially adolescent mothers, stressed the experts while addressing the members of the Media Coalition, comprising media personnel from all provinces representing all major media outlets of Pakistan.
Media Coalition of Population Council highlights health and family planning issues besides cross-sectoral impact of rapid population growth periodically to raise awareness and hold governments accountable for service delivery of family planning and information.
The Population Council, in collaboration with UNFPA, organized the Media Coalition Meeting to mark the forthcoming International Women’s Day in which media personnel were briefed on the reproductive health needs of young women in Pakistan. The meeting highlighted youth, in particular, at the risk of experiencing poor reproductive health in Pakistan, which is associated with adverse consequences such as early childbearing and parenthood, pregnancy complications, and maternal death and disability.
The meeting also drew a comparison between the reproductive health of adolescents in Pakistan and other regional countries. The role of the media in highlighting this issue was also discussed at length during the meeting.
Dr. Ali Mir, Senior Director Programmes, Population Council urged stressed the elimination of early marriages by utilizing existing media and communications networks and encouraged journalists to play an active role in this regard.
He also said, “Reaching out to young couples with accurate, reliable and credible information on reproductive health, pre-marital counselling on family planning and greater investments in education and employment opportunities for young couples particularly young married women are very much needed.” Briefing the media, Ikram ul Ahad, Senior Communication Officer at the Population Council presented new estimates produced jointly by the Guttmacher Institute and the Population Council, which reveal critical gaps in reproductive health services for young married women of reproductive age (15–19) in Pakistan.
Findings show that simultaneously expanding both modern contraceptive services and maternal care would not only maximize benefits to women but would also be an efficient use of funds.
Currently, 397,000 young women (15-19) give birth in Pakistan, and more than half of them make fewer than the recommended four antenatal care visits, and 126,000 do not deliver in a health facility.
Ahad also presented comparative data of family planning, health, and women empowerment indicators of regional countries which showed Pakistan’s lacklustre performance against most of the indicators.