Altaf Hamid Rao
MIRPUR (AJK), (Parliament Times): Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan has said that the Government of AJK will continue to work with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to strengthen partnerships between the public and private sectors in tackling human development challenges, including the awareness-raising relating to population management, access to universal health facilities, ensuring gender equality, guaranteeing maternal-neonatal health care, due family planning and reproductive health services.
The AJK President made these remarks while addressing the dissemination event of the study titled “Mapping of Public and Private Sector for Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services in Selected Districts of AJK and GB 2020”, launched by the AJK Population Welfare Department with the collaboration of UNFPA and the ministry of National Health Services (NHSR&C, Govt. of Pakistan) at the federal capital late Thursday, AJK President office told media here on Friday.
This report was prepared in coordination with the Health Planning System Strengthening & Information Analysis Unit (HPU); Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Government of Pakistan; the AJK Department for Population Welfare and the GB Department for Population Welfare.
The event was also addressed by Dr Mustafa Bashir Abbasi, AJK Minister for Population Welfare, TEVTA and IT; Shaikh Nasir Zamani, Gilgit-Baltistan Minister for Population Welfare; Raja Muhammad Razaq, Secretary to AJK govt. for Population Welfare Department, Ms Lina Mousa, Country Representative UNFPA-Pakistan; Dr Shahid Hanif, Director General Federal Ministry of National Health Services; Dr Muhammad Rafiq, representative of the KPK Health Department; and Dr Muhammad Asif Wazir, Technical Specialist UNFPA, Sanaullah, Secretary Population Welfare Department, GB, Asghar Ali, Secretary Population Welfare Department KPK.
It may be added that under the ambit of CCI (Council of Common Interest) has already approved the recommendations for addressing the alarming population growth in Pakistan, the Action Plan, inter alia, envisages to conduct mapping of all general registered private sector practitioners and hospitals to provide counseling, information and services in the area of Family Planning (FP), the ministry of NHSR&C, Govt. of Pakistan, in collaboration with UNFPA (Pakistan), has conducted a pilot mapping study of selected district i.e. Muzaffarabad (AJK) and Distt. Gilgit, of Gilgit Baltistan (GB).
Speaking on the occasion, Ms Lina Mousa emphasized the positive role that the private sector can play in enhancing Pakistan’s family planning programme. She said that to expand family planning services, we need to integrate family planning services with maternal, neonatal and child health services in both public and private sector. The Government should work collaboratively with the private sector to develop a comprehensive roadmap towards the provision of universal and comprehensive family planning services at all facilities. She expressed her appreciation to the governments of Pakistan, AJK and GB for their commitment towards maternal health, gender equality, improving the status of women and youth development. She said that progress in this regard would have not been possible without the strategic partnership with line departments of Pakistan, AJK and GB. She added that along with the general public the religious clerics have also played a positive role in this regard and with consistent efforts we will be able to achieve these development goals in the near future.
Dr Mustafa Bashir Abbasi said that the Government of AJK is committed to addressing the issue of rapid population growth in AJK. He said that allied challenges with population growth will be addressed to ensure potential challenges like affirming food security, livelihood, water scarcity and diminishing living facilities are mitigated by removing barriers like common misconceptions, inaccessibility due to remoteness and costs related to medical services.
President Masood Khan said that the population of the world is increasingly at an exponential rate and we as a developing nation should manage population growth in proportion to our resources. He said that at the current national growth rate of 2.1% – which is twice as much as the global growth rate – we are bound to face major issues like food scarcity, unwanted migrations and economic turbulence. He added that overpopulation has been a common variable while tackling major Sustainable Development Goals and management of the growth rate has become a priority for development.
The AJK President said that the AJK Department for Population Welfare under the patronage of the Minister and the AJK Prime Minister are working together with all stakeholders, including engaging the private health sector. He urged all related UN agencies to work together with the government agencies to help synergise their efforts in achieving their goals. “We need higher visibility for population management and encourage governments to prioritise family planning, reproductive health services, training Lady Health Workers and Community Midwives as part of its overall policy.
President Masood Khan said that population management has always been a very delicate topic and we have to keep cultural and religious sensitivities in mind while raising awareness on such issues. He said that the best mechanism would include chalking out an inclusive plan to engage community leaders, social activists and above all the religious clerics to help guide the general public.
The President invited the UNFPA Country Representative to visit AJK and also set their office up in Muzaffarabad. He assured that the Government of AJK, its people, the civil society, social and community leaders will fully cooperate in this regard.
In this report, UNFPA planned to focus on the capital districts of AJK and GB and more than 1,200 Public and private sector facilities in both districts were covered in the study.