Pakistan’s lowest district in terms of human development indicators, is one of the areas of Pakistan where the teenage pregnancy rate is recorded alarmingly high at 59 percent. This was revealed during an MoU ceremony aimed at improving family planning service in the desert district of Tharparkar.
The MoU was signed between the Population Welfare Department (PWD), the government of Sindh and Thar Foundation, the CSR arm of the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC). Rehan Baloch, director general, PWD-GoS, and Naseer Memon, general manager Thar Foundation signed the agreement on behalf of their organizations.The provincial minister for health, Dr. Azra Fazal Peechoho, Minister for Energy, Imtiaz Shaikh and member Sindh Assembly from Thar, Qasim Siraj Soomro , who is also the Chairman Standing Committee on Health, also witnessed the ceremony. Kazim Jatoi, secretary population welfare department, Mr Zahid Abbasi, and Dr Abdul Bari of Indus Hospital were present at the ceremony.
Under the MoU, the Population Welfare Department will provide commodities and technical support to Tar Foundation to provide family planning services in Tharparkar, and Indus Hospitals will implement the family planning program on behalf of the Thar Foundation. The Thar Foundation will also undertake social mobilization in local communities to benefit from this service. The parties shall jointly collaborate in establishing and improving the family planning network at various hospital(s) of Tharparkar district and setting up Thar Foundation’s mobile facilities.
To increase contraceptive prevalence rate (PCR) in the target areas, awareness of family planning shall be done to bring in maximum married women of reproductive age (MWRA) in the family planning network. The PWD will provide training, and expertise in family planning techniques, certify medics and paramedics for the family planning service and ensure a continuous supply of contraceptive commodities. Rehan Baloch, DG PWD-GoS told the ceremony that the family planning use of any method in district Tharparkar is just 6.6 percent, whereas unmet family planning needs are recorded at 44 percent. Quoting Census of 2017 and MICS 2018, the Total Fertility Rate for the district is 4.6 per woman in the district of Tharparkar, he added.
Elaborating on the details of the partnership, DrAzra Fazal said that the extended services would eventually help in improving mother and child health in district Tharparkar, whereas smaller family sizes would ultimately help address the poverty problem in the area and reduce infant and mother mortality.Thew Sindh Minister for Energy, Mr Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh who is also chairman of the Thar Foundation Board, said Thar Foundation had done lots of commendable work in the area and improved the human development indicators by aligning them with United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
MPA Qasim Siraj Soomro was of the view that teenage pregnancies always lead to premature and malnourished infant deaths in Tharparkar, which would be addressed through expanding the family health services and social mobilization efforts in the area. Naseer Memon of Thar Foundation said they were aware of the alarming family planning indicators in the district and focusing on these areas by enhancing the health services network. “Construction work on 120-bed Thar Foundation Hospital Islamkot is also underway, which will further improve mother and child health services including free of cost surgeries and medicines,” added Mr Memon.
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