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Day-long conference on population welfare concludes at Mirpur

Altaf Hamid Rao,

Stresses on effective population control mechanisms in Pakistan and AJK,

MIRPUR (AJK):         Under the spirit to ensure due vibrant role and commitment, joining stringent efforts at national and international level to address the challenges caused by the increased population in the country including Azad Jammu & Kashmir, the State Population Welfare Department of AJK government hosted a grand day-long conference in AJK’s capital town on Tuesday.

Prime Minister of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider Khan inaugurated the ‘Country Engagement Working Group Conference’ Tuesday morning, said Raja Muhammad Razzaque Khan, Secretary Population Welfare Department of AJK Government while later talking to this Correspondent on Tuesday.

Highlighting salient features of the moot Secretary of the State Population Welfare Department said that since National Census (including AJK) – 2017 recorded the total population of 207.7 million in the country including Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan emerged as the 6th largest populous country the world over.

Quoting experts, Razzaque, also Director General Environmental Protection Agency of AJK government, observed that since the projected growth might further strain water, forests and arable land resources besides putting the economic grains, secured in the recent years, to the back log, the poor state of affairs regarding population planning in Pakistan, was taken serious notice by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Human Rights case No. 17599 of 2018 regarding alarming high population growth rate in the country – and inter alia termed that ‘the fast raising population rate in Pakistan is a ticking bomb which will certainly not wait till it is convenient for us to take note of it’, he underlined.

The Secretary Population Welfare of AJK pointed out that during London Summit on Family Planning – 2012 (FP 2020), Pakistan along with more than 20 governments made commitments to address the policy, financing, delivery and socio-cultural barriers to women, accessing for reproductive health in purposeful manners. “In order to review the progress on this account, Pakistan has set up a Country Engagement Working Group (CEWG) comprising Secretaries, Director Generals of Health and Population Welfare Departments of all the provinces, regions (including AJK State) representatives of National Health Service (NHS), PD & R Division, International Development Partners, representatives of Civil Society and the private Sector”, he added.

Raja Muhammad Razzaque said “the CEWG Conference in Muzaffarabad, held under the auspices of AJK government, was, primarily. part of the quarterly congregations of the CEWG, hosted on rotation basis in all the provinces and regions in the country including AJK – primarily aimed at to reiterate resolve and commitment to address the increased population challenges in Pakistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir”, he said.

It may be added that the prime responsibilities of the UNFPA vis a vis areas of support, reproductive health, gender based violence, youth empowerment, data for development in various parts of the world reportedly included with detail as under:-

Reproductive health: Through policy advocacy and capacity development, UNFPA collaborates with stakeholders to support government in improving maternal health and ensuring universal access to reproductive health (RH) with a focus on family planning. As the lead UN organization for the implementation of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, UNFPA also supports federal and provincial governments to develop health policies and plans that promote universal access to RH (including in humanitarian settings) by providing an integrated essential sexual and reproductive health package of maternal health care, family planning and sexually transmitted infections prevention, including HIV services.

Gender-based violence: UNFPA supports federal and provincial governments to address barriers to the delivery of quality gender-based violence (GBV) services through the public health delivery system. In collaboration with provincial departments of health and other stakeholders, UNFPA contributes to capacity development in the health system to respond to GBV as part of an integrated core set of sexual and RH services, including in disaster situations. In the UN humanitarian response, UNFPA leads the GBV sub-cluster of the Protection Cluster.

Youth empowerment: Partnering with Government, youth organizations and other UN entities, UNFPA assists in the development and implementation of youth policies and programmes to secure the health, development and rights of adolescents and youth. UNFPA supports the empowerment of young people in Pakistan through strengthening health departments to provide integrated sexual and RH information and services to address early marriage and early pregnancies, and ensuring that the most marginalized segments of newlyweds have access to information on sexual and RH information and services, including counseling.

Data for development: UNFPA plays a lead role in supporting the Government in population data and evidence-based research. This support includes strengthening national capacity of the Government statistical and planning agencies and research institution capacity to adopt international best practices and the highest ethical and quality standards that can support policy makers in evidence-based policy formulation. In collaboration with other UN agencies and international donors, UNFPA is partnering with the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to conduct the forthcoming census of Pakistan. The institutional capacity of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has been enhanced by setting up seven state-of-the-art geographic information systems laboratories and three data processing centres that will ensure data accuracy in the proper estimation of populations in each census block.

Dr. Hassan Mohtashami, UNFPA Representative:

Dr. Mohtashami is a medical doctor with specialty in psychiatry and post-graduate training in Population Leadership with over 24 years of management experience. Prior to joining UNFPA in 2004, he served in his home country Iran and held different positions as District Health Director, World Bank Project Manager, CEO of the National Family Planning Association and in Afghanistan as WHO Reproductive Health Advisor.

Prior to his arrival in Islamabad in January 2016 to take his new post, he held posts of Country Representative in Laos, Deputy Representative in Sudan & Uganda and Represent-at

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