WB approves $100mn for Punjab family planning project

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors Thursday approved $100 million for the Punjab Family Planning Programme to increase the utilisation of family planning services in Punjab, which is home to more than half of the country’s population.

The programme will provide timely access to quality family planning services free of charge, a handout from the lending institution said.

The bank said it would also institutionalise quality of care across the family planning services delivery system.

The programme will also support public information and advocacy campaigns so that more families are made aware of the benefits of family planning.

“This important programme aims to achieve universal access to reproductive healthcare and to raise the usage of family planning methods in Punjab to 60% by 2030,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

“This is critical for Pakistan’s development, as excessive population growth rates hampers development, slows the accumulation of human capital, and contributes to keeping families in poverty.”

The program will scale up innovations, such as clinical franchising, voucher schemes, and family planning counseling through community leaders, which have been piloted in different districts of Punjab and have shown improvements in family planning outcomes.

Through an extensive network of lady health workers, family welfare workers and community health workers that are linked to health facilities, family health clinics and family welfare centers, the programme will reach areas and communities that have limited or no access to family planning services.

The programme will scale up the voucher incentive scheme, social marketing, male and community leaders’ engagement and youth platforms for increasing utilisation of family planning services.

It will also improve the interpersonal communication skills of family planning service providers.

“Family planning enables couples to make informed choices about the number of children they want to have, and when they want to have them,” said Manav Bhattarai, team leader for the programme.

“Enabling individuals to plan their families helps prevent unplanned or unintended pregnancies, ultimately leading to a decrease in overall fertility rates.”

The programme will be implemented in all districts through the service delivery networks of the Population Welfare Department and the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, the two project-implementing agencies.

The programme uses the Programme-for-Results (PforR) financing instrument, which links the disbursement of funds directly to the achievement of specific program results. 

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