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Poorest women need subsidies to avail family planning: Prime Minister (PM)’s aide

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Faisal Kundi said poorest women need to be provided subsidies for travel and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred to meet the service provider fee in reaching family planning services through incentivised voucher schemes.

He was speaking at a ceremony held to launch scale-up of family planning voucher scheme in Punjab organised by the Population Council.

The ceremony was held to commemorate scale-up of the voucher scheme in five districts of Punjab after its successful pilot in Rahim Yar Khan. The scale-up is being jointly implemented by the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Punjab Population Innovation Fund (PPIF) and the Population Council with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Dera Ghazi Khan division.

Mr Kundi said the government accords priority to poverty alleviation and to achieve that reducing population growth rate is critical. He said evidence generated from the scale-up of voucher scheme will support the government of Pakistan in implementing similar programmes that provide better health outcomes to poorest women.

“Public-private partnership, evidence generation and technology interventions must be promoted in the health sector to overcome inequities in access to health services,” he said.

In her welcome address, Dr Zeba Sathar, Country Director Population Council, said: “The right to family planning services is most compromised for marginalised population mainly due to financial constraints.”

Enhanced funding and expanding couples’ choice by reducing financial barriers to contraceptive services will produce a much-needed boost in meeting both family planning and the maternal health goal, she added.

Talha Hussain Faisal, CEO Punjab Population Innovation Fund (PPIF), said the voucher scheme will be up-scaled in five districts of Dera Ghazi Khan division to serve BISP beneficiaries with high unmet need through a digital voucher management system that has been developed by the Population Council.

Dr Jamil Ahmed from United Nations Population Fund reaffirmed UNFPA’s support to work with the government of Pakistan to ensure uninterrupted family planning services for all segments of the population.

Source: Dawn