ISLAMABAD-Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services on Tuesday stressed the need of sustainable population growth in the country for economic growth and better utilisation of resources.

Dr Zafar Mirza said this in the launching ceremony of the Population Council and GuttMacher’s report titled “Adding it up: Costs and benefits of meeting the contraceptive and maternal and newborn health needs of women”.

Dr Mirza said that this study had been released at a very appropriate time and provided strong research-based evidence of how much additional money Pakistan needed for mother and child healthcare and contraceptive care that will guide the government to increase funding in these areas.

He said that providing modern contraception to all married women in Pakistan who need it would yield large benefits.

Compared to 2017, increased contraceptive services alone will result in 3.1 million fewer unintended pregnancies (an 82% decline), 2.1 million fewer induced abortions (an 82% decline) and nearly 1,000 fewer maternal deaths (a 9% decline), he said.

According to the report, the current cost of providing modern contraceptive services in Pakistan is $81 million per year. Expanding those services to cover all married women with an unmet need for modern contraception would cost an estimated $173 million annually.

Importantly, simultaneous investment in meeting needs for modern contraception and maternal and newborn healthcare will cost less compared with focusing on maternal and newborn health care alone – reducing the cost of maternal and newborn care to $1.65 billion from $1.89 billion.

New estimates produced jointly by the GuttMacher Institute and the Population Council reveal critical gaps in reproductive health services for women of reproductive age(15–49) in Pakistan.

The report examines the current needs for contraceptive services for married women and for maternal and newborn health care for all women of reproductive age, quantifies the health benefits of investing in these services, and provides estimates of the cost of fully meeting these needs.

The research shows that simultaneously expanding both modern contraceptive services and maternal and newborn care would not only maximize benefits to women but would also be an efficient use of funds. Currently, about half of the 16.8 million married women in Pakistan who want no more children or want to postpone having a child for at least two years are not using a modern contraceptive method.

According to Zeba Sattar, country director at the Population Council’s Pakistan office and a coauthor of the report, “This study provides robust evidence that makes the investment case for additional financing for family planning services in Pakistan. Investing more in contraceptive care, especially within the public health system, will produce a much-needed boost in meeting both family planning and maternal health goal will support the 2018 Council of Common Interests recommendations on family planning, and lead to overall savings by reducing the additional costs of unintended pregnancies.”