An Awareness Seminar to mark ‘Adolescent Health and Life Skill Based Education was held at Dow Medical College. It was attended by large number of medical students participated.
The Chairperson of Costed Implementation Plan for FP 2020, Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho talked about importance of family planning for improving the development indicators of Pakistan and also for improving women and children’s’ health and for reducing maternal and child mortality. She advised medical students to not just counsel their patients about family planning and Planned Parenthood but also think about their own lives so that they know when they are ready to have families, how many children they would have, the way they would like to bring up their children and learn to be responsible parents in future. She further said education is the only way to empower women and to raise their status in society. Unless we educate our girls, they will continue to suffer violence like, rapes, gang rapes, acid attacks and domestic violence. She said Sindh is the first province to have passed the child marriage law and increased the girls’ age of marriage to 18.
Dr. Sadia Pal, Vice President of Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Pakistan talked about population overload in Pakistan and she said we are sixth most populous country in the world but by 2050 we are expected to become 4th most populous country after China, India and USA. We need to promote family planning counseling and services, particularly postpartum family planning to improve our CPR and reduce unmet need and improve the health of women and children. These are huge area wise countries whereas we are a small country but our population will be at par with them, while we are already short of resources like water, food, electricity, jobs and health infrastructure. Our maternal mortality is one of the highest in the world and contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) is only 35%. We have an unmet need for contraceptive services of 20%. She further said child sexual abuse and such a big incident of Zainab happened in Qasur but no doctors, medical students or civil society of Karachi came out on streets to protest this. Further she said as health professionals and medical students our job is not just to study anatomy and physiology and see patients in clinics but we should also talk about and highlight the issues of human rights violations, discrimination against women and sexual violence.
Ms. Muneeza from AAHUNG organization talked about Life Skills Based Education which can empower children by giving them information, developing the right kind of values and attitudes and certain personal skills which can help in reducing the incidence of child sexual abuse and sexual violence. These skills consist of enhancing their self-esteem, positive thinking, problem solving, decision making and interpersonal skills. She said AAHUNG has started these trainings for school teachers and parents in collaboration with the Costed Implementation Plan of Population welfare Department, Government of Sindh.
Dr. Nusrat Shah, Prof of Obs & Gyne at Dow Medical College and General Secretary of Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Pakistan said 60% of Pakistan’s population is adolescent and young adults and this segment is weak and vulnerable due to lack of information and awareness. Child marriages are common in all four provinces of Pakistan but particularly in Sindh. Around 30% of marriages in Pakistan are in girls less than 18 year old and different forms of child marriages in rural areas are addo baddo which is done to settle family disputes, watta satta which is exchange marriages, wani and swara which are done to settle family and tribal disputes by panchayats and jirgas and pait likhi. which are marriages decided for babies who are yet to be born. She said these cases are official cases of child sexual abuse as no one protests against these violations of human rights. She said the Child Protection Law in Sindh Assembly has yet to be passed by the assembly.
Earlier, Dr. Talib Lashari and Dr. Shershah Syed also addressed in seminar. In the end, principal of Dow Medical College, Prof. Kartar Dawani paid vote of thanks to all the speakers for conducting this important seminar for medical students and talking about the sensitive issues of child sexual abuse, violence against women and family planning.