ISLAMABAD, Nov 26 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Friday emphasized the role of media and religious scholars to guide the masses on reproductive health, which he believed, was essential not only for mother and child’s health but also the national development.
The president, addressing the International Donor Conference on Population Dynamics and Family Planning, also laid emphasis to ensure the availability and delivery of contraceptives.
He said conveying the message to the women and girls was of utmost importance to make them know the vitality of the issue and its relevance to their lives.
He said the economic stability could also help change thinking of producing more children to make them an earning hand for the family. He said the haphazard population growth burdened the economy, also making it difficult for the government to extend facilities.
The president also called for an effective awareness campaign on reproductive health, exemplifying the role of media and Ulema to guide the people to observe anti-COVID SOPs.
Calling for providing a secure environment to girls at educational institutes, he said the empowerment of women could enhance country’s GDP by 23-30%.
He reiterated Islamic teachings of breastfeeding the child which was also now being advocated by the global health institutions, advising the mothers to only breastfeed the child at least for six months.
He said the availability of contraceptives was essential as almost half the women get pregnant against their desire.
The president said, as the purchase of contraceptives usually involves some shyness, it could be made available along with other medicines to be supplied by lady health workers.
He said besides ensuring availability, the government should also promote the use of injectable contraceptives for long-term use.
He said in order to achieve the desired results out of its agenda, the government would have to recognize the issue, own it, mobilize resources and then act as per the defined time limit.
President Alvi said the effective handling of the COVID situation had proved the nation’s strength which could emerge stronger in its efforts for family planning.
He said the provision of education and health facilities were highly essential for any nation to prosper.
The speakers including the high commissioners and representatives of partnering organisations highly appreciated the government’s agenda on family planning.
They particularly spoke high of President Arif Alvi for speaking up on the crucial subject openly which otherwise had been a taboo in the society.
In his address, SAPM Dr Faisal Sultan, the population could become an asset for the country if it grew with balance.
He said Pakistan was one of the first countries in Asia to take up the matter seriously with the government having launched multiple programs on reproductive health including legislation on child marriage and other efforts to increase the birth interval.
He said the planned growth of the population would not only improve the mother and child’s health, address the issue of malnutrition but also contribute to national development.
In her presentation, DG Population Planning Wing Dr. Sabina Durrani said the government had identified eight thematic areas to work which also provided a basis for a National Action Plan.
She said the execution of the Plan would require the funding of around Rs 110.3 billion till 2025. Out of the eight thematic areas, the government was especially focusing on universal access to reproductive health and family planning, advocacy and communication and contraceptive commodities security.
She recommended the formation of a Donor Forum to ensure the realization of donors’ financial commitments.
The UNFA Regional Director for Asia and Pacific Bjorn Anderson said the UNFPA had been providing technical and financial support to Pakistan. He appreciated the CCI recommendations on reproductive health and Pakistan’s commitment to providing access to reproductive health.
UN Resident Coordinator Julien Harnes said Pakistan had placed the Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of its development agenda.
He said Pakistan had witnessed an impressive decline in infant mortality rate; however, the population growth remained a challenge for the country.
He lauded President Alvi for changing the mindset by personally engaging and openly discussing the reproductive health issue for which “I salute you.”
UK High Commissioner Christian Turner said UK was supporting the establishment of local contraceptive manufacturing industry in Pakistan.
He said the discussion on family planning was important and called for not considering it as mere a health issue.
Canadian High Commissioner Wendy Gilmour and European Union Ambassador Androulla Kaminara appreciated the National Action Plan on Family Planning and wished for its full implementation.
They also highlighted the importance of the availability of the contraceptive believing that it could protect the mother and child’s health.
USAID Mission Director Julie Koenen and a representative of FP2030, in their video messages, reiterated their commitment to support Pakistan to help it achieve the goals of family planning.