HP+ Celebrates Achievements in Pakistan as Program Comes to a Close
March 5, 2018
After two years of focused capacity development efforts, the USAID-funded Health Policy Plus (HP+) project in Pakistan is closing its doors, transitioning the project's ongoing efforts to strengthen family planning and family planning investments to local partners.
Since 2016, HP+ in Pakistan has worked with the government of Sindh province to strengthen population sector stewardship, engage the private sector in high-quality family planning services, strengthen policy advocacy, and foster media engagement in family planning issues. Sindh, Pakistan's second most populous province, is growing at a startling 2 percent each year and is home to Karachi, which boasts the twelfth largest urban population globally.1 The project focused on training motivated advocates for family planning—journalists, women leaders, male champions, and other decision-makers and stakeholders—to mobilize technical and financial resources to support the provincial government's achievement of its Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals.
HP+ also supported the execution of a costed implementation plan (CIP), a multi-year roadmap designed to help the government achieve family planning goals by prioritizing interventions, engaging stakeholders, forecasting costs, and mobilizing resources to meet gaps in health and family planning services. This work was done in close collaboration with Dr. Talib Lashari, technical advisor, CIP, and the Population Welfare Department.
On January 29, HP+ Pakistan held an end-of-project event to celebrate the project's successes. The event brought together senior provincial government officials and representatives from USAID, development partners, and civil society. Oghale Oddo, USAID deputy mission director for Sindh and Balochistan provinces, showed appreciation of HP+'s work in generating evidence-driven messages linking rapid population growth to development to advocate for family planning. "If we do not make a dent in family planning in Sindh, it will affect every other development issue," he stated. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, the provincial coordinator of the Oversight and Coordination Cell for Public Health Programmes, and co-chair of the Sindh FP2020 Task Force, further praised HP+'s role in placing the issue of family planning on the development agenda in Sindh by linking achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals to reaching family planning targets. She said, "HP+ has brought the plus to the Population Welfare Department and the CIP Secretariat!"
Director General of Health Services in Sindh, Dr. Akhlaq Khan, praising the collaboration between HP+ and the government spoke at the event stating, "HP+ and the CIP Secretariat have provided a platform for health and population to integrate. For the first time, we are working together. All vertical programs are focusing on family planning as a part of their own work. This will accelerate the achievement of the FP2020 goals."
The project has been instrumental in improving the capacity of 134 men from districts across Sindh, training them on communication, leadership, and advocacy for family planning. Participants included male social mobilizers, Taluka Population Welfare Officers from the Population Welfare Department, and representatives of community-based organizations. The community-based organizations will train several men in their areas to run monthly sessions on family planning with 50 men each, progressively expanding their reach. The male social mobilizers will integrate what they learned into their monthly community sessions. Ashfaq Ali Shah, director general of the department, stated during the event, "HP+ has successfully revitalized the male social mobilizers and proved that they have potential. As a result of this activity, they now have a vision and realize the importance of their role in their communities."
HP+ also brought its Women's Leadership Initiative to Sindh, a global initiative aimed at training groups of diverse women leaders to become family planning champions. In Pakistan, the graduates of the Women's Leadership Initiative have become a key technical resource for the government and strong advocates for youth-friendly family planning services. Speaking during the event, Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, chair of the FP2020 Taskforce and a member of the National Assembly, said that the women leaders will prove to be an excellent resource and that their advocacy efforts will contribute to the promotion of family planning for young couples. Dr. Pechuho went on to congratulate the HP+ team on its accomplishments and thanked the project for "placing family planning on the radar… as a critical issue that needs to be addressed."
After two years, HP+ leaves a lasting mark on Sindh, Pakistan, with a vast pool of trained journalists, women leaders, male mobilizers, and others that the government can call on for ongoing technical assistance and key resources to support advocacy for increased investments in family planning.
1 Asian Development Bank (ADB). 2015. Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2015. Manila: ADB.