PESHAWAR - Speakers at a workshop underlined the need for revamping the family planning process by ensuring adequate allocation, improving coverage and access, overhauling monitoring and supervision system, tapping the resources of public-private sector organisations and maintaining commodity security and active support of all stakeholders.

 The workshop titled ‘Report on State of Family Planning in Pakistan- Lesson Learned for Way Forward’ was held here on Tuesday under the aegis of Pathfinder International in collaboration with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). During the moot a study of the Pathfinder International on family planning was presented and later discussed by the participants.

The study stated that investing in family planning would enhance the quantum of human capital in the coming years, which would be a major step towards attaining the benefits of the demographic dividend. Addressing the moot, Dr Tauseef Ahmad, country representative of the Pathfinder International, said the study was an assessment aimed at ascertaining the state of family planning based on operations, progress made and shortcomings covering the period 2000-11. He said several quantitative studies have done in recent past but it has missed the underlying system-wise issues, which caused the sector’s poor performance. The study contains 9 units that examine the role and contribution of different stakeholders.

 According to the study, the targets and goals related to family planning have not been achieved due to lack of clear policies, planning, a governance mechanism and limited coordination among relevant stakeholders. It also mentioned that coverage and access was found lacking and the departments of health did not own the programme.

A complex funding flow mechanism with delayed and insufficient releases caught the programme in a vicious cycle of low performance, supply shortages and stock-out.  “It is unfortunate that neither the federal ministry of population welfare nor the planning division evolved any strategy to remedy the issue but rather remained at dragger drawn,” the report stated.

The advocacy and interpersonal communication remained less audience oriented and less focused, while monitoring and evaluation and research support was weak and sporadic.  The report said that the devolution of the population subject to the provinces has had the mixed result of defocusing the population issue from the national perspective.

To address the challenges, the report mentioned to revitalize the population welfare commission, revisit population policy 2010, rejuvenate provincial population steering committees, build ownership of family planning in departments of health and the population program by provincial governments.

The participants of the workshop observed that political commitment was visible in the province and it would be continued to support the program. They, however, said further awareness of parliamentarians through seminars on importance of family planning should be done so that they could effectively influence their electorate.

The importance of Local Bodies was also stressed particularly the involvement of female councillors. The experts opined that community based monitoring at grass root level is needed and the district assembly meetings should be part of the accountability process. Besides, counselling sessions should be arranged at schools, colleges and universities.

They also stressed active participation of media in promoting the family planning. Secretary Population Welfare Department Khalid Hussain Gilani, Director General Fazl Nabi Khan, Shakeel Ahmad Special Assistant to Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Najma, Dr Hidayat, Dr Lubna Tajik of UNFPA, Dr Haris Ahmed Director Programs Pathfinder were prominent among the participants.