In order to achieve sustainable population growth rate, Pakistan must increase its funding for family planning programmes and initiate subsidized and free services through voucher programmes. This will further improve access of the poor and the marginalized populations and harness the private health sector to enhance outreach of the initiatives.
These thoughts were shared by legislators representing major political parties in a dialogue organized by the Population Centre Pakistan with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and in collaboration with the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) and Population Council.
The seminar was held to facilitate legislators on the multifarious challenges of a rapidly growing population which call for stronger political commitment and investment in family planning and reproductive health programs in the country.
The meeting featured dialogues with subject experts, program managers and health practitioners to focus attention on parliamentarians’ role for advocating high impact practices that can be a game changer to promote family planning in Pakistan. Members of the Senate, the national and the provincial assemblies, and regional body of Gilgit-Baltistan representing all major political parties attended the meeting.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Mohammad Anwar, Executive Director, PIPS said parliamentarians’ role is pivotal for oversight and accountability to address the population challenge. He stressed for legislators’ role to drive political discourse on the population issue in the assembly floors by regularly dedicating time to discuss its impact on the country’s development.
Speaking at the occasion, Senator Mushahid Hussain said political parties must leverage on the existing cross-party consensus on attaining sustainable population growth in Pakistan and advocate for inclusion of critical areas of health and family planning to take center stage in all national development and human security. Present at the occasion, Senator Waleed Iqbal stressed on advocating for reducing the alarming population growth by highlighting its cross-sectoral impact on other areas of life particularly water emergency and food insecurity. He emphasized parliamentarians to promote the new national narrative of Tawazun that promotes maintaining balance between family size and resources.
The legislators called for radical steps to promote delivery, access and uptake of family planning services to manage Pakistan’s high population growth rate. They stressed the need to capitalize on existing political will in creating a conducive environment through grass root accountability, advocacy for population stabilization and strong policy reforms.