“Family planning must be discussed openly"
Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said that family planning is still considered such a taboo subject in Pakistan that female university students feel uncomfortable talking about it.
The statement was made at the media launch ceremony of the State of World Population (SWOP) Report 2023 under the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
This took place at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (ZABIST) University.
Many senior officials from the Sindh government were in attendance at the event, including consul generals from various countries, ZABIST students and researchers.
Dr Pechuho said: “Family planning must be discussed openly to promote contraception and birth control and stop unauthorised abortions performed illegally in shady clinics, which is exceedingly risky for the women.”
She also highlighted the lack of doctors in the province, stating that graduate doctors from various medical colleges preferred to work in urban areas, as opposed to in rural places.
It is said that an estimated 8,000 medical professionals were working in Sindh, which is a very low number that does not cover the healthcare requirements of the natives.
As a result, there is a lack of doctors in areas in which they are desperately required.
Dr Pechuho stated that speaking about reproductive health was considered so taboo, that college and university students opted not to talk about it.
In this day and age, it has become highly important to be able to talk about sexual reproductive health as society needs to accept that sexual health should be given priority.
At the event, the Health Minister identified that it was essential to speak of family planning in order for continual growth.
Dr Pechuho said: “Family planning has to be supported if we want a stronger, longer-lasting economy.
“Family planning is an integral aspect of sustainable development. Family planning is not just a women’s issue; it is also an economic issue and a development issue.
“We must invest in family planning for healthier and more productive populations, and more sustainable economic growth.”
Dr Pechuho mentioned that there was a large rate of abortions in Pakistan and this was why she felt it was important to raise the importance of family planning.
Legislation was approved which forbade the act of abortion unless there was a major reason, such as a life-threatening issue.
Most fatalities are said to occur when a woman decides to have an unplanned abortion.
The minister added: “We need to explain to them the importance of preventing pregnancy rather than aborting it through life-threatening procedures.”
In April 2023, a report was published in which the latest fertility rates and population growth were highlighted.
It was emphasised that it should be the woman’s decision of how many children she wanted to give birth to.