To provide more women with access to family planning and increase the use of contraceptives by 15 per cent in the underprivileged communities of Karachi, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Pakistan-based Aman Foundation have announced their commitment to the Sukh Intiative and signed a memorandum of cooperation on Thursday.
The health initiative focused on family planning to improve maternal and child health in Karachi and will be implemented by Aman Health Care Services and other partners. The foundations were represented by David and Lucile Packard Foundation CEO and president Carol S Larson, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chairperson Melinda Gates and Aman Foundation founding trustee Fayeeza Naqvi.
“The Sukh Initiative has an urban focus as we at the Aman Foundation believe that urban poverty is a growing problem that must be tackled,” said Naqvi, while speaking at the occassion. “Family planning and maternal health are critical interventions for a mega city like Karachi.”
The Sukh Initiative emerged from commitments made among the three foundations after the 2012 London Summit on family planning.
“Reproductive health for all women is something the Packard Foundation has cared about and worked on since the beginning,” said Larson, adding that they are excited about this collaboration with Aman and Gates foundations.
Pakistan has low contraceptive prevalence, high unmet need for family planning, and one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the region as 276 women die per 100,000 live births. Furthermore, Pakistan has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates, driven in large part by short birth intervals. Birth spacing is essential for the well-being of women and children. In view of this, the Sukh Initiative aims to implement programmes to improve quality and access to family planning in the context of improving maternal and child health.
“The world came together in July 2012 to help women and girls plan their families so that they could lead healthy and productive lives,” said Gates, adding that they were thrilled to acknowledge the launch of this unique partnership to meet the needs of poor and vulnerable women in Karachi.
Karachi, with more than 20 million inhabitants, remains Pakistan’s most populous city. The initiative will include provision of quality and door-to-door family planning services through community health workers, easy access to information through telehealth services, clinical interventions for post-partum birth spacing, and information and life skills for 50,000 young people of age 16 and over.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2013.