ISLAMABAD: A ‘Women Convention on Family Planning and Population’ was organized at the Convention Centre. The Convention was organized by the Population Program Wing (PPW) of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (M/o NHSRC). The main objective of the Convention was to raise the awareness and knowledge of women, particularly the rural women on population issues and family planning. The target audience for the Convention were the women and mothers, mainly from the rural and peri-urban areas. The Honourable Federal Minister of Health, Dr. Nadeem Jan, graced the occasion as a Chief Guest. The Federal Secretary for Health, Dr. Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, participated as the Guest of Honour and key note speaker at the Convention. The Provincial Secretaries Population Welfare Department Sindh, AJK, KP and Gilgit Baltistan participated in the event. Country Director UNFPA and development partners also attended the convention. The event was held with the support of UNFPA.
Addressing the Convention, the Federal Minister for Health, Dr. Nadeem Jan expressed that Population of Pakistan is growing at an alarmingly high growth rate and every year there is addition of around 61,00,000 new individuals in our country. This is more than the size of the total population of countries like Singapore, Denmark and Norway. It means every year we are adding the population more than the Denmark’s population in Pakistan. When population is growing we need to increase the resources. If we cannot rapidly increase our resources, we should focus on stabilization and management of our population- at the family, community and country level. It is a huge pressure on our resources and economy. He suggested to integrate the Health, Population and Nutrition at the federal and provincial level which will synergize and complement each other. He quoted the example of Iran where family is taken as a unit. Similarly, Government intends to include health, hygiene, nutrition etc. in the curricula to create awareness from the childhood.
He said that health as well as the family planning are the fundamental human rights. There is a direct link between female status and development. Women can contribute in the development through literate, educated, well aware and empowered females. This is the way forward. Government intends to give due respect and status to the women. At the policy level, number of lady health workers will be increased to 150,000. We will integrate polio workers and volunteers-which are our asset- into LHWs to address the uncovered areas. Government will ensure due respect and dignity for the hospital staff- nurses, midwives, doctors etc.-and community workers. There should be a dashboard at the district, provincial and federal level showing real time information on health, population and family planning indicates as to where we are going. The government wants to revitalize the community health committees comprising local people, teaches, local religious leaders etc. improvements in FP, Health and Polio situation will lead to development.
Ulema have a special role. Population Stabilization is the way forward for health and development. Collaboration is the solution and national development is the responsibility of all of us. Vision is important and our vision is that the Population stabilization is the fundamental strategy for development. We have started a new era of hope and development where everyone should be healthy, happy and prosperous. He praised the women and population program wing’s team of the Ministry of National Health Services for this important event. He awarded shield to the best performers in the field of family planning, maternal and child health.
In his key note address, the Federal Secretary for Health, Dr. Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said that the rapid population growth is one of the leading factors behind poverty, poor health and education outcomes, higher unemployment, inequality, and the dwindling of common resources in the country including energy crises, water shortage, housing issue, etc. He underscored that we will face more difficulties unless serious actions are taken to stabilize the population growth. Dr. Shallwani informed that the Government of Pakistan is providing the free of cost family planning services in small and large government hospitals and health centres throughout Pakistan, where women and their husbands are given advice and provided all modern methods of family planning by well-trained service providers. Moreover, frontline community health workers go to their homes and provide all advice and guidance on family planning and contraceptive methods at the door steps. He said that Pakistani Nation has been resilient during Covid-19, floods + in Polio Campaign. Similarly, we can fight to stabilize the population for which we need a dedicated team. This has been done by our neighbouring countries. He expressed that our main objective is to make our frontline country works. He stressed that we can only win this fight with the contribution of women. The Provincial secretaries also expressed their views and commitment to implement the provincial population programs for achieving the objectives of overall national population plan.
The Director General Population, Dr. Shabana Saleem welcomed the participants of the convention and explained the objectives of the event. She said that with the current population of over 241 million, Pakistan is the 5th most populous country of the world. She expressed that repeated pregnancies and deliveries not only affect the health of the women and new-born, it puts pressure on the family resources to provide food, housing, health care, education and other basic facilities to a large family. During the proceedings, renowned female scholars, experts and celebrities- Dr Zeba Sathar, Laila Zubairi, DR. Ayesha, Shehzad Roy etc.- talked about the present situation of rapid population growth in the country and its impact on the health, education, employment and overall progress of Pakistan. They stressed on women’s respect, girl’s education and female empowerment through their involvement in the economic activity. The speakers also explained the Islamic point of view on a balance between the family size and resources. The experts highlighted the health outcomes of repeated pregnancies for the mothers and new-borns. The audience were informed and motivated through videos, poem, songs and real life stories regarding women empowerment, importance of female education and status of women for a healthy and prosperous family and society.