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June 14, 2019

Sindh govt can’t incentivise family planning as doing so would be coercion, PA told

Karachi

June 14, 2019

The Sindh Assembly was informed on Thursday that the provincial government could not offer any incentives to parents who keep the number of their children to two or less as doing so would be like coercing them to adopt family planning procedures.

Speaking during the question hour of the Sindh Assembly on the health and population welfare departments, Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said that giving incentives to parents to adopt family planning methods would also be tantamount to violating their human rights as the constitution did not allow it.

She said parents were supposed to participate in the family planning programme in a completely voluntary manner without any element of coercion and both the partners in a marriage should agree to the idea of using contraceptive methods.

She said that the provincial government used the method of counselling so as to motivate concerned parents to adopt family planning techniques and they should take the decision to this effect with an informed choice and considered opinion.

The minister noted that in the upcoming provincial budget, there would be a provision for appointing counsellors who would work at different health facilities to proving counselling to parents on proper spacing between two pregnancies for the sake of better health of both the mother and the newborn.

She said that a mother should have the privilege to secure better reproductive health as one of her fundamental rights. She said that provincial government would also start introducing modern contraceptive techniques with longer effects lasting up to three years.

Pechuho said that the government had been providing contraceptive pills and other related things free of charge. To a question, she said the population welfare department worked at the community-level to spread awareness and promote the cause of family planning among the people of Sindh.

To another question, she said the government still had no plan to charge patients being treated at the government-run hospitals and health facilities in the province though the provision of such health facilities had become a much cost-intensive job for the government given the recent phenomenal devaluation of the rupee against the dollar.

The minister added that Punjab was considering the option of charging patients being treated at the government-run hospitals. She said that the opposition in the province should not politicise the recent outbreak of HIV in the province as the government had fully taken up the issue to prevent its further spread and the other stakeholders should also treat this instance purely as a health problem.

She said the government had screened 26,000 people for HIV after the recent outbreak of the disease in Ratodero.

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