Secretary Health Mushtaq Jadoon said the reproductive health of women is one of the most important issues in the region that should be paid immediate attention.
Organisations have been working on development issues related to women, but “This is a crucial time to start focusing on issues pertaining to their (women’s) health,” Jadoon said during a press briefing held for World Population Day at the Health Secretariat on Friday.
He said 270 union councils across the province lack basic health facilities or are located in remote areas. However, the government is working on establishing functional health facilities across the region in the next two years.
Third most populated
Population Welfare Secretary Fazal Nabi Khan claimed, “Peshawar is the third most populated city in the country.” He expressed concern over the population of the city, which he estimated would double in the near future. An increase in the population has adverse effects on everyone’s health as limited facilities get overburdened, he added.
Khan said women form one of the most vulnerable sections of the population, especially in an emergency situation. Therefore, an awareness campaign to educate people on the issue will be launched soon with the support of non-governmental organisations, religious scholars and local government representatives.
A matter of human rights
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa programme analyst Lubna Tajik said shortage of reproductive health facilities, early-age marriages and untrained staff were some of the real challenges women encounter. She added displaced women in K-P were not able to take care of themselves.
Promoting women’s rights as human rights, especially in times of emergencies, was everyone’s responsibility, she added. “Everyone should work on providing [women] with services that are accessible, affordable and confidential.”
Tajik highlighted UNFPA’s commitment to increase technical assistance to different departments of K-P and tribal areas, which included establishing a demographic cell, developing district profiles, training government staff, establishing adolescent and reproductive health-friendly services, and counselling services for the newly-wedded at the DHQ Hospital at DI Khan (being built in collaboration with the K-P health and population welfare department).
According to a statement issued by UNFPA, in addition to the aforementioned projects, it also initiated a voucher scheme in four districts of the province to ensure the marginalized and vulnerable population have access to quality family planning services.
The K-P population factsheet at the event revealed most women in K-P have at least four children during their lifespan, and that around 1,700 women die every year due to pregnancy-related complications.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2015.