Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique said on Wednesday that the balance between population growth and resources could become lopsided and create health problems in the province besides halting the rapid economic development.
Addressing a two-day seminar on Improving Family Planning Services with a New Approach and a Consolidated Strategy, organised by the Policy & Strategic Planning Unit (PSPU) of the Punjab Health Department a local hotel, the provincial health advisor said that the population explosion created problems for the health of both the mother and the child.
Rafique said that there was a need for joint efforts by all the stakeholders including the Health Department, Population Welfare Department as well as NGOs.
Minister for Population Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, Director PSPU Ali Bahadur Qazi, Dr Zahida Sarwar, officers of Health and Population departments, IRMNCH and representatives of International Development Partners including UNFPA, USAID Deliver as well as various NGOs attended the inaugural session of the two-day seminar. The experts presented performance reports of District Technical Committees as well as reports on the provision of contraceptives and family planning services at grass roots level. They also analysed the acceptance and popularity of family planning programmes in married couples. Data collected in various studies was presented during the meeting. The participants discussed in detail family planning facilities at the primary and secondary health facilities and discussed the possibility of extending their sphere to the teaching hospitals as well. They also decided to evolve a strategy for awareness and popularity of such facilities among the masses.
Khawaja Salman Rafique further said that rapid increase in population growth in an under-developed country like Pakistan was a huge problems that other countries in the region also faced. He urged that all the stakeholders in the society including ulema, politicians, civil society and government departments should be taken onboard to create awareness at the mass level. He said that Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif had taken personal interest in introducing reforms in the health sector and that a visible improvement had been observed in the health indicators such as EPI coverage, availability of medicines, presence of doctors at BHUs, RHC, and DHQ, THQ hospitals. He said that 700 BHUs are providing labour room facilities round the clock. He suggested that women MPAs should be included in district committees constituted for this purpose. “This is a time for taking bold decisions,” Khawaja Salman Rafique said.
Population Minister Begum Zakia Shahnawaz said that there was a dire need to create awareness and to extend family planning facilities to the doorsteps of the people in towns and villages. She said that education, health, clean drinking water and good quality of life were the basic rights of children. She said that family planning and population programmes should be made a success in order to ensure these rights for the children. She said that all the concerned departments, NGOs and development partners have to evolve a consolidated strategy to implement a comprehensive programme.