New Population policy launched for KP

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Ceremony held at PARD

PESHAWAR: The launching ceremony of Population Policy of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was held on Friday in Pakistan Academy for Rural Development (PARD), Peshawar.
Mr. Shakeel Ahmad, Advisor to Chief Minister for Population welfare, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the chief guest.
The ceremony was also attended by members from national and provincial assemblies, Ms. Naseem Hayat, Chairperson, Standing Committee for Population Welfare, members from academia, Government and Non-Government Organizations, as well as the representatives of the donor agencies, says a press release issued by Population Welfare Department Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Peshawar.
The press release said, “The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 8.5% covered area of the country is occupied by 12.9 % of the country’s population.
The increase in population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the last six decades is from 4.5 million in 1951 to 26.7 million in mid 2015 – almost six time increase. This high growth rate evolved due to rapid decline in mortality rate and slow change in fertility rate since last four decades.
It has resulted in youthful population in the age range of 15-29 population to around 31% in 2014. The young population not only contributes to the youth bulge but also emerges as a challenge. Furthermore, continuous flow of young women in the reproductive age contributes to high population momentum.
Population Growth has been recognized as major impediment to socioeconomic development process in all provinces of Pakistan. 18th Constitutional amendment took place in 2010 and the Ministry of Population Welfare ceased to exist and its functions were devolved to the provinces under Population Welfare Departments. In order to stabilize the population growth rate of the province and efficient use of available resources the government has to set population specific targets and objectives and an implementation frame work to control the highly unregulated population growth rate.
Over the past four years Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has implemented reforms in the Family Planning and Reproductive Health Sector including policies, activities, financing mechanisms and evaluation systems.
In collaboration with development partners, the provincial government has invested significant human and financial resources into creating a decentralized healthcare delivery system that is rooted in equity, access, data-driven flexibility and sustainability.
Under the 18th constitutional amendment, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Government developed its first Population Policy which was approved by the provincial government in 2015.
This Policy advocates a holistic multi-sectoral approach, so that efforts to influence fertility, mortality and migration, as well as the size, structure and growth rates of the population are both a means to and outcomes of sustainable development.
It is complementary to the national and provincial development plans and macro-economic policies of the government.
The concerns spelt out in the policy pertain to problems associated with poverty, gender discrimination, environmental degradation, gross socio-economic inequities between rich and poor and between the urban and rural sections of the population.
Furthermore premature mortality, the threat of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies are also catered in the policy.
The policy is more result oriented regarding creation of a balance in population size and per capita access to goods and services for sustainable development and improvement in quality of life.
The policy is developed with the aim to develop a vision, recognize the existing problems, outline solution for the problems i.e. the implementation frame work and set population related targets medium and long term. The VISION of the policy is:
The Policy envisages promoting a prosperous, healthy, educated, and knowledge-based society where every pregnancy is planned, every child nurtured and cared for, and all citizens are provided with an opportunity and choice for improved quality of life as per their aspirations.
The policy envisages high level of political commitment, resource allocation, mainstreaming population in the development process, good governance and leadership, Accountability, Highly skilled, trained and motivated human resource and intersectoral collaboration. It focuses on teenage girls and adolescence, Women Empowerment, Effective monitoring and evaluation, effective communication skills, expansion of services, linkages with other line departments, partners and community based organization, Public private partnerships, and the effective and meaningful use of the media.
International and local researches constantly reveal the benefit of family planning to maternal health and child survival. This will be addressed by effective communication efforts of advocacy, motivation, counseling and care through easily available and affordable services. High unmet need for contraception (26%) implies that actual fertility to be higher than wanted level, especially among those who do not have access to such services. This will be addressed with quality family planning services, targeted counselling, extensive follow-up and adequate contraceptive supplies. The task will be undertaken with focused attention and by tackling the factors that inhibit women, who either wants to space or limit the family size to avail contraception facilities. The Health Sector will be brought on board to provide FP services as part of its mandate and that family planning re-positioned as health intervention. It is relevant in its own right and will make significant contribution to improve maternal health, child survival and reduction in neonatal deaths, particularly where there is a birth spacing of 36 months. The support by Lady Health Workers (LHWs) and CMWs will be pursued effectively for covering all rural areas of the province and to strengthen linkages with the communities.
The government remains cognizant of the many issues that need to be addressed, including reducing the unmet need for family planning through universal accessibility of Family Planning and Reproductive Health services. The policy not only address Family Planning/Reproductive Health services and Rights but also considers the sustainable development milestones detailed in the Government of Pakistan’s national agreements including the Pakistan Vision 2025, FP-2020, and international plans of development such as Sustainable Development Goals.
The policy has been developed at the opportune moment when Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has embarked on decentralization. During this phase, adolescents and young adults are expected to play a major role at the forefront of this paradigm change towards a healthy and productive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for all.
It has been observed empirically that nations that invested heavily in education and health built a strong human capital base and witnessed rapid economic growth and prosperity and therefore it is high on the developmental agenda of the elected government. The various ministries and departments, especially those in the social, economic and environmental sectors, therefore have the major responsibility for the implementation of the population policy”.