Population Council Launches Two Highly Policy Relevant Studies Research Studies

January 28, 2015

 1. “Induced Abortions and Unintended Pregnancies in Pakistan” and
2. “Investigating the Low Patterns of Modern Contraceptive Use in Pakistan”

Islamabad, January 28, 2015:     Today, the Population Council, Pakistan office released two highly policy relevant research studies, entitled “Investigating the Low Patterns of Modern Contraceptive Use in Pakistan and “Induced Abortions and Unintended Pregnancies in Pakistan”. Due to the close association between these two issues, both studies were disseminated together.   Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar said on the urgent need for better coordination efforts at the  national level and well thought out policies  and programs at the provincial level that take into account the new evidence from these two studies. She said until policies and program are implemented fully with accountability mechanisms in place our indicators will not improve.   She said it gives us great cause for concern that Pakistan is the world’s sixth most populous country with a record of slow fertility decline compared to other Asian countries despite the fact that people want to better plan their families but are unable to do so due to issues of access to services and quality of care,” said Mrs. Tarar.   She said that it is clear that Pakistan can meet its high level of unmet need and raise contraceptive prevalence so its CPR can be at the same levels as Bangladesh, Iran and even Saudi Arabia. However, business as usual will not do. We have to shake up the health system to deliver birth spacing services as part of its other maternal care services-men should also be at the centre of these services- and above all accountability for delivering what is an essential human right to millions of Pakistanis must lie with the highest levels of political leadership.   Minister said complemented the Population Council and the Research and Advocacy Fund for visiting districts across the country to bring us voices from the field and the realities from Pishin to Umerkot. The Population Council is playing a key role in supporting both the federal government and the provinces by providing crucial evidence on a regular basis that highlights ground realities that can lead to improved evidence based decision making.   According to the latest Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS 2012–13), 20% of married women of reproductive age (MWRA) have an unmet need for contraception. During the past decade, unmet need for family planning has remained high in Pakistan and gains in contraceptive prevalence have been small. Moreover, the country’s current contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR), for modern and traditional methods put together, is only 35%—one of the lowest CPRs in the region. (PDHS 2013-13). Unfortunately, the issue does not end here. In addition to the problem of unmet need due to non-use, the country is finding it difficult to keep current users of contraceptives on board: compared to other developing countries, Pakistan has one of the highest rates of discontinuation of contraceptive use. The national study on post-abortion care and abortion incidence, carried out by the Population Council in collaboration with the Guttmacher Institute, USA  estimates that there were 2.25 million abortions in Pakistan in 2012, an annual abortion rate of 50 per 1,000 women. A previous study conducted in 2002 estimated nearly a million abortions taking place in Pakistan yearly and an abortion rate of 27 per 1,000 women. While some of the increase is due to better measurement, the authors conclude that the abortion rate has likely increased between 2002 and 2012. The studyconcludes that the need to accelerate and strengthen the family planning program is greater than ever, as is the need to implement strategies to improve the quality and coverage of post-abortion services. The second report is on ‘Investigating the low use of contraceptive methods in Pakistan and its causes and dimensions’. Both groundbreaking reports were launched during a meeting that took place, Islamabad. Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State, National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination was the chief guest at the occasion and keynote speaker. Speakers from the Population Council and the Guttmacher Institute were joined by a panel of experts from leading national institutions and professional organizations. Attended by a large number of provincial and federal government representatives, donor organizations, health professionals, academics, NGOs and civil society representatives, the report launch was an opportunity for subject experts to share their views on timely topics shaping the reproductive health and socioeconomic agenda in Pakistan and determine the best way forward for helping women and communities achieve optimal health outcomes.