Boosting Family Planning Access in Pakistan
January 16, 2017
KARACHI, Pakistan—In late November 2016, Health Policy Plus (HP+) Pakistan staff members joined Sindh province’s Population Welfare Department, provincial ministers, and other stakeholders at the “Population Association of Pakistan's 17th Annual Conference on Investing in Family Planning.” The conference focused on the first six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, and clean water and sanitation—and encouraged participants to share evidence and advocate for increased support and funding for family planning programs in order to meet them.
Health Policy Plus’ work guided conversation across the conference. A series of HP+ briefs and infographics detailing how investments in family planning can help achieve the SDGs and Pakistan’s development goals were included in the conference welcome packets (distributed to an estimated 400 family planning stakeholders) and ministers of education, planning and development, and food security drew content from a recently published HP+ report to inform their remarks at the event. Speaking to conference participants, Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, chair of the Oversight and Coordination Cell on Family Planning and Public Health Programmes said, “We must address adolescents in our education system and give them knowledge about sexual and reproductive health, and the options of informed parenthood.” Shortly after the conference, HP+ supported the Sindh Population Welfare Department in hosting a data-sharing and validation workshop for population-related data, strengthening the department’s multi-sectoral approach to family planning programming, and providing policy modeling data to demonstrate the link between population and development. Dr. Ashfaq Ali Shah, director of monitoring, evaluation and planning at Sindh's Population Welfare Department acknowledged HP+’s coordinating role saying, “For the first time all the different departments are sitting here together in the same room to discuss the population issues affecting Sindh.”
These recent accomplishments come on the heels of numerous efforts by HP+ to assist Pakistan with expanding access to family planning and meeting family planning and development goals. Many of these efforts are taking place in Sindh, Pakistan’s second most populated province, where one in five women continue to have an unmet need for contraception.
- In order to meet Sindh’s FP2020 goals, Sindh produced the country’s first costed implementation plan (CIP) in 2015. Since May 2016, HP+ has been supporting the Sindh government in executing the plan and engaging a range of stakeholders from government officials and women leaders, to modelling experts and journalists.
- HP+ supported the establishment of a subgroup for CIP execution, formally approved by the chair of the FP2020 Working Group, and co-chaired by Sindh’s Population and Welfare Department. The subgroup has developed a range of materials to help execute, communicate about, and monitor the CIP.
- As part of its Women’s Leadership Initiative, HP+ held the first of three planned advocacy and accountability skills-building workshops with 18 women leaders representing government, civil society, and other cooperating agencies. This event marked the beginning of a comprehensive capacity development initiative to strengthen women’s roles and voices in defining provincial priorities and promoting Sindh’s ongoing support for family planning and reproductive health. The second workshop is currently underway.
Through these efforts, HP+ is supporting women leaders and government officials in Sindh to advocate for increased investments in family planning. It is expected that these activities, along with upcoming initiatives working with the media and male champions, will help Sindh expand family planning access, increase contraceptive prevalence, and make progress toward achieving the SDGs, FP2020 commitments, and Pakistan’s national development goals. These efforts will also support the Population Welfare Department in becoming a family planning champion across all government departments, helping to make the case that increasing investments in family planning is everyone’s responsibility.
Learn more about HP+’s work in Pakistan:
- HP+ Pakistan program overview
- How investments in family planning can accelerate progress toward the SDGs
- What key actions decision-makers in Sindh province can take to improve the state of family planning and achieve the SDGs