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April 8, 2021

Investment in family planning programmes termed integral to achieve growth

Islamabad

April 8, 2021

Islamabad : Investment in family planning is strategic and has far-reaching implications to achieve a sustainable population growth rate in Pakistan. Cohesive actions are required at the federal and provincial levels to improve family planning programs.

This was stated by Dr. Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination in his keynote remarks at a consultative meeting held online.

Addressing the participants, Dr. Faisal Sultan also said the Council of Common Interest (CCI) recommendations provide a comprehensive framework for the federal and provincial governments to stabilize population growth.

The meeting was organized by the Population Center Pakistan in collaboration with the Population Council and with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The consultation was held with key stakeholders to present evidence on improving family planning services and build the case for greater accountability on the CCI decisions to improve family planning programmes in the country.

Members of the Senate, National Assembly of Pakistan, provincial government representatives, international partners representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The World Bank, and United Nations Population Fund attended the meeting.

In her welcome remarks, Dr. Zeba Sathar, Country Director, Population Council expressed the need for greater investment in family planning programmes. She highlighted the government’s highest level of commitment to achieve sustainable population growth. Dr. Zeba reiterated CCI recommendations provide an excellent roadmap for achieving a sustainable population.

Highlighting interventions in four major areas of the CCI decisions, the Population Centre Pakistan (PCP), and the Population Council presented high impact practices to strengthen advocacy and enhance access, finances and accountability. Five most promising actions - the “Five Best Bets” developed to positively influence the uptake of modern contraceptive were presented by Dr. Zeba Sathar, Country Director Population Council, Dr. Ali Mir, Senior Director Programmes, Population Council at the meeting. These best bets propose key set of recommendations on engaging the for-profit sector in FP service provision, inducting men on FP, expanding the role of community health workers and enhancing funding for FP and vouchers for rights-based family planning in Pakistan. Samia Ali Shah, Project Director at Population Council highlighted advocacy initiatives were undertaken in re-framing the new national narrative on creating a balance between resources and family amongst young people.

Mr. Farooq Azam, CEO, PCP presented the accountability dashboard at the meeting. The Dashboard is developed as a tool for the government to monitor the implementation of CCI decisions. The dashboard provides national and provincial task forces with the evidence to support their priority actions and actuate their recommendations for universal access to rights-based family planning.

In his comments, UNFPA representative Dr. Yilma Alazar reaffirmed UNFPA’s support to the government of Pakistan in the implementation of the CCI decisions. He reiterated UNFPA’s support to federal and provincial Task Forces on policy and programmatic interventions, strong monitoring mechanisms and advocacy efforts to ensure universal access to family planning. Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Talib Lashari, Focal Person, FP2030 said Pakistan’s renewed political commitment to achieving sustainable population growth has been instrumental in improving population welfare programmes. He stressed innovative approaches, building synergies and public-private partnerships to deliver on the CCI recommendations.

The meeting also featured a plenary discussion with population experts and sector leaders. Moderated by Dr. Yasmeen Qazi, Senior Advisor, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, participants emphasized on continued political commitment and investment in family planning programmes in the country.

In her concluding remarks, MNA Dr. Nausheen Hamid, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination said, “The government of Pakistan is working to meaningfully advance towards achieving access to reproductive health as an integral part of universal healthcare.