Combating rapid population growth: Tangible private-global dev. sector partnership emphasized;

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Altaf Hamid Rao.

UNFPA extended Technical Support to AJK Govt. for development of “Roadmap for functional/structural integration of DoH and PWD facilities to improve FP services in AJK”; Consultant Raja M. Razzaque reveals:

MUZAFFARABAD,    (Parliament Times) : Under the spirit to address the challenge of rapid population growth and its crosscutting and multidimensional impacts for sustainable socioeconomic development including women empowerment, an integrated approach to pool and strengthen all available resources in health and population sectors and a tangible partnership with private sector and international development partner is deemed essential.

Raja Muhammad Razzaque, Retired Secretary to the Government of AJ&K, sitting Legal & Public Policy Advisor, Consultant for Governance , Population & Development, Environment and Member IUCN – World Commission on Environmental Law, emphasized this while speaking at a meeting of High Powered Committee, recently constituted by the AJK Chief Secretary, hosted in the State metropolis late Thursday to look into the modalities for adopting viable options recommended in the “roadmap of Functional / Structural integration of Population and Health Departments facilities to improve service delivery in the area of family planning and reproductive health in AJK”.

Dr. Syed Asif Hussain, Additional Chief Secretary General chaired the meeting which was attended among others by Secretary Health Services, Secretary population welfare, Secretary Finance, Secretary Planning and development AJK government – besides Raja Muhammad Razzaque, the former Secretary to AJK Govt. and a public policy advisor who represented the United Nations Population Fund in the meeting.

Later, Raja Muhammad Razzaque, the consultant and public policy advisor while elaborating the key areas to our Special AJK Correspondent Altaf Hamid Rao on Friday said that the meeting while realizing the gravity of the challenge of rapid population growth and its crosscutting repercussions for women and child health in particular and economic growth and sustainable development in general, the leadership of of Govt. of AJK in its first meeting of AJK Population Task Force convened on October 07, 2020 at Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Muzaffarabad, among other initiatives, approved to workout the modalities for integration of Health and Population Departments aimed at improving service delivery in the area of FP & RH in AJK.

Elaborating, Razzaque continued that in pursuance thereof, in 2021 UNFPA extended a Technical Support to Government of AJK for development of a “Roadmap for functional/structural integration of DoH and PWD facilities to improve FP services in AJK”; which subsequently had also attained validation of the stakeholders in its meeting held on June 18, 2021 at PC Hotel, Muzaffarabad. The report finally reflected the viable options to improve service delivery in the area of FP & RH in AJK”.

He continued saying that after the commitments of Govt. of Pakistan at various national and international forums i.e. FP2030, ICPD25 (Nairobi summit), SDGs 2030 Agenda, the paradigm of service delivery in the area of FP & RH services has been totally changed and we need a complete paradigm shift to meet the committed targets through improved service delivery. He also referred to the Supreme Court of Pakistan directive and Pakistan’s Council of Common Interest’s recommendations dated 18 November, 2081 which calls for action in eight core areas, including “ensuring universal access to family planning services” which cannot be achieved without meaningful integration, he said.

Besides, the global movement to reach universal health coverage presents opportunities to advance family planning goals. The family planning community has a keen interest in whether and how the full range of contraceptive services can be made accessible, particularly to underserved populations such as youth or the poor, within broader initiatives that aim to achieve universal health coverage. AJK besides low contraceptive prevalence rate (28%), also faces high total fertility rate (3.5) which needs special attention within public sector governance.

Moreover, he underlined that hilly terrain, sparsely spread population and low capacity to implement Population/Family Planning Program could be attributed as a challenge in providing effective service delivery in AJK. The experts are of the view that Making progress toward universal health coverage and satisfying unmet need for family planning is a long-term process, but one that can be accelerated. Advocates can champion better coverage of family planning by building the evidence base, promoting inclusion of private providers, and gaining a better understanding of the concepts and language of health financing.

“Thus the initiative of the Govt. of Azad Jammu & Kashmir for improving the long awaited service delivery in the area of family planning and reproductive health and technical support of the UNFPA Pakistan for engaging an important sector which entails crosscutting implications, deserve appreciation, however, this needs to be pursued till it reaches to its logical conclusion”, he added.