“There is a dire need to modify the Policy for Adolescents in Pakistan (PAP) and to create more awareness of child rights in Pakistan,” Dr Irfan Ahmed, the Plan Pakistan senior health adviser, said on Wednesday.
Dr Ahmed was addressing a consultative meeting where participants contributed ideas on a policy framework for adolescent development in Pakistan. He said that it was unfortunate that there had been little progress in assuring child rights.
Quoting from a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report, Dr Ahmed said that almost 30 per cent of Pakistan’s population lived below poverty line, thus creating an atmosphere where basic rights especially those pertaining to children were not upheld. He said there was a need for efforts by the media, civil society and the public sector to support programmes on child and adolescent rights. The participants also discussed adolescent health issues.
“Anaemia, malnutrition and poor reproductive health posed severe challenges in combating health problems,” Dr Ahmed said. He said sexual abuse was one of the most pressing issues that adolescents in Pakistan faced.
The new policy framework includes initiatives to strengthen existing programmes including general awareness programmes, access and counselling of adolescents on reproductive health and incorporating health education in school curricula.
Dr Ahmed presented a policy framework draft and suggested that rift to education, livelihood opportunities and survival in the event of disasters should be made an integral part of the policy.
Dr Ahmed stressed the need for immediate drafting of laws once the policy framework was approved and legislation within six months. He said that the implementation should begin within the year the policy is legislated. Adviser to the CM Zakia Shahnawaz, MPAs Seemal Kamran, Aneela Akhtar Chaudhary and Dr Asma Mamdot, publisher Mujeebur Rehman Shami and Information, Culture and Youth Affairs Department’s Maqbool Malick were also present.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2011.