ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr Aisha Ghous Pasha on Thursday said that 600,000 pregnant women in flood affected areas lack maternal health services and have no safe place to deliver.
She said that over 5 million children have no immunisation or nutritional care and suggested that Pakistan must fast track efforts to restore reproductive health services for women and children.
She was speaking to participants of the seventh meeting of the Parliamentary Forum on Population (PFP). The meeting was organised by the Population Council and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at a local hotel.
The Parliamentary Forum on Population is a cross-party platform to raise parliamentary awareness on population and development, sustain cross-party political commitment and advocate for population stabilisation. Members of the Senate, legislators from the national and provincial assemblies, and regional body of Gilgit-Baltistan representing all major political parties attended the meeting.
Speakers say over five million children without nutritional care
Dr Aisha Pasha said that the international community should channel funds into priorities that support climate-hit countries like Pakistan.
Speaking at the meeting, Dr Zeba Sathar, country director (Population Council) highlighted that floods in Pakistan have aggravated pre-existing vulnerabilities of marginalised population. Citing national data, she said 19 million people out of the 31 million persons living in severely affected areas are poor.
“More than 22.7 million katcha houses belonged to the displaced population of severely affected areas. Besides women and children, around one million people over the age of 65 are living in severely flood affected areas and require special care. People living in agri-climatic zones have lost their cattle and crops and have no access to health services,” she said.
Ms Samia Ali Shah, project director (Population Council) explained how lack of reproductive health services was impacting their lives and that we must strengthen community-based providers to help them provide much needed services to their communities.
Parliamentarians called on the donor community to urgently prioritise the needs of women and girls who disproportionately bear the brunt of the devastating impacts of climate change.
They emphasised on the need for accelerating provision of maternal health, reproductive health and family planning services along with safe space for women and girls.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, secretary general of the PFP, said Pakistan’s rapid population growth rate drains its resources, exposes people to socio-economic problems and puts people at risk of the impact of human-induced climate change.
Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2022