ISLAMABAD - The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) through its cross-sectoral initiative of Delivering Accelerated Family Planning in Pakistan (DAFPAK) has urged the government to ensure enhanced access to contraceptives necessary for improved reproductive health in Pakistan.
In its message, on the occasion of September 26th marked as a significant day on the global health calendar— World Contraception Day, it said, “Today, as we reflect on global efforts to empower individuals with choices concerning their reproductive health, under the theme ‘The Power of Options,’ we must shed light on a pressing concern that affects millions in Pakistan— the unmet contraceptive need.”
Pakistan stands as the fifth most populous country in the world, with a population of over 220 million people. Despite commendable progress in various sectors, a considerable portion of our population still grapples with unmet contraceptive needs. Shockingly, over 21% of married women who wish to avoid pregnancy in Pakistan do not have access to effective contraception. This stark reality not only impacts individual lives but also exerts immense pressure on our socioeconomic systems.
The issue of unmet contraceptive needs is a multifaceted challenge. Clinical concerns, societal constraints, and communication gaps are intertwined factors that hinder contraceptive access.
Clinical facilities in remote areas may lack the necessary resources and trained staff, making it difficult for women to access contraceptives. Societal norms and cultural taboos can make open discussions about family planning a sensitive issue, further exacerbating the problem.
Moreover, unmet contraceptive needs have far-reaching consequences. It contributes to a higher fertility rate, leading to rapid population growth, and poses significant risks, particularly for young mothers. Maternal mortality rates remain unacceptably high in Pakistan, primarily due to unintended pregnancies.
It is imperative for advocacy efforts to dismantle cultural barriers, reduce stigma, and promote awareness, facilitated by sufficient funding, trained healthcare professionals, and accessible facilities. Collaborative efforts with civil society, international agencies, and community leaders are indispensable for creating a supportive family planning ecosystem.
On this World Contraception Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to family planning as a fundamental human right. Let us join hands to create a future where every Pakistani has access to quality contraception, and where individuals are empowered to make informed choices about their reproductive health. Together, we can build a healthier, more prosperous Pakistan for generations to come.