Policy Roundtable on Family Planning
Punjab Public Health Agency organized a policy roundtable on Family Planning in Punjab- The Way Forward’. Attended by leading population experts, the dialogue was organized to review the national provincial experiences of the last six decades, and devise strategic inflection points to enable a demographic transition in Punjab, and achieve FP2020 targets for Pakistan.
Family planning became a national priority with the official incorporation of the agenda in the third Five-Year Plan in 1965. During this time Pakistan also became a member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Population growth was highlighted as a critical agenda due to the status of Pakistan as the thirteenth most populous country in the world. While our population has quadrupled since then, we are still far off our global commitments. The contraceptive practice remains sub-optimal, while fertility, population growth and unmet need for family planning is high. There are many layers of influencers and contributors inhibiting substantial progress.
In 2012-13, contraceptive use stood at 35.4 percent and has now lowered to 34.2 percent, which takes us further away from our FP2020 commitment of 50. Subsequently, the percentage of women not using contraceptives has increased from 64.6 to 65.8. In Punjab, family planning trends mirror the national situation, with contraceptive use declining from 40.7 to 38.3 percent within last five years. The use of modern contraceptive methods has also declined in Punjab, while the use of traditional methods remains roughly the same.
The objectives of the event were as follows;
- 1. Understanding the importance of Family Planning towards achieving the targets set by the SDGs and UHC.
- 2. Current challenges in Punjab
- 3. Way forward - Policy Directions
The participants appreciated the recent initiatives by the government to ensure meritocratic induction and centralized induction policy. The need to establish modern HRH registry was strongly voiced, for optimal public health workforce planning and development. Various specialties were identified for future HRH training and development. Participants also highlighted the need for flexible work structures to retain HR, and creation of supportive policies to encourage women to remain in the active workforce.
The forum was attended by eminent family planning professionals from both the public and private sector. Subject matter experts were also in attendance as the discussion proceeded to highlight existing challenges and the required policy interventions to improve Family Planning in Punjab, and thereby controlling the rapid population growth.