Stopping quacks for a healthy society

The World Population Day 2020 deals with how to face COVID-19 and safeguard the health and rights of women

The World Population Day, observed annually on every 11th of July by UNFPA, spreads awareness about global population and addresses reproductive health needs of vulnerable women and girls. The COVID-19 crisis has impacted individuals, cultures and economies all over the world. However, women who make up the largest share of healthcare staff in the frontline are disproportionately exposed to coronavirus. Supply chains across the globe are being disrupted, affecting contraceptive supply and causing the increasing risk of unintended pregnancies.

The day also emphasises awareness about the importance of family planning, gender equality, hunger, maternal health and human rights. Reproductive health services have always been there on top of UNFPA’s agenda. However, in the present calamity of coronavirus these issues are being sidelined as countries are under lockdown and health systems are struggling to cope with the virus. The World Population Day 2020 deals with how to face COVID-19 and safeguard the health and rights of women and girls.

This year, UNFPA has also called for humanitarian aid to help 48 million women and young people urgently. The appeal, also known as the Humanitarian Action Review of UNFPA, outlines how women and girls face unique challenges during humanitarian disasters, ranging from being more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth complications to an increased risk of gender-based abuse. The world will be facing huge humanitarian problems this year and over 168 million people worldwide need humanitarian aid right now.

The current world population is 7.8 billion as of May 2020, according to the most recent United Nations estimates. Family planning, therefore, is a key factor in reducing population and consequently the poverty. To educate young population to avoid unwanted pregnancies by using cultural-friendly measures is one of the main objectives of the day.

Being a man or a woman has a significant impact on health, as a result of both biological and gender-related differences. The health of women and girls is of particular concern because, in many societies, they are disadvantaged by discrimination. For example, women and girls face increased vulnerability due to the sociocultural factors that prevent women and girls to benefit from quality health services.

Poverty is an important barrier to positive health outcomes. Poverty tends to yield a higher burden on women and girls’ health due to, for example, feeding practices, malnutrition, and use of unsafe drinking water.

It is estimated that about 30 percent of the world’s population growth is a result of unwanted or accidental pregnancies. This is mainly due to either the absence of basic reproduction information, adequate family planning services and access to birth control or a combination of all three factors. UNFPA recognises that by meeting the unmet need for family planning, a reduction in the number of maternal deaths can also be achieved by nearly one third. Empowerment of women facilitates their access to reproductive rights.

According to UN data Pakistan’s population is 220,892,340 — 2.83 percent of the total world population. The maternal mortality rate in the world is 127 every 1,00,000 live birth whereas this is over 178 in Pakistan. As per current estimates, in Pakistan 14,000 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth complications every year translating into one death every 37 minutes. Treatment of pregnant mothers at fake mother & child healthcare centres and maternity homes is one of the major causes of deaths. Even though there is considerable demand for family planning in Pakistan, lack of services at the doorstep of needy women and misconceptions are some of the hindrances. Family planning efforts in Pakistan will allow women to better plan for the number and timing of children they desire while also promoting healthy births and deliveries.

Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) has been taking actions against quacks and fake healthcare establishments since long. Recently, PHC took action against these centres/clinics and sealed illegal premises lacking the required services, including presence of qualified doctors/gynecologists, management of medication and hospital infection control facility. The commission has developed the Minimum Service Delivery Standards (MSDS) for healthcare establishments providing services related to midwifery and mother-child healthcare.

Demographic trends, particularly population growth decline, aging, urbanisation and international migration are contributing to the many challenges facing humanity, including health, food production, water shortages, poverty, housing, climate change, environmental degradation, human rights, civil unrest and displacement.

In short, more people need more food, more jobs, more energy, more social services and other necessities of life. This failure results into a situation of restlessness, frustration and violence.

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Stopping quacks for a healthy society