Inadequate health services make women vulnerable: Report

Inadequate health services make women vulnerable: Report

2017-10-18

Islamabad – One out of 98 women in Pakistan die because of insufficient health facilities in maternal mortality control while the country lags behind other regional countries in the provision of reproductive health facilities, an official said on Tuesday.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched The State of World Population Report 2017.

UNFPA official Hassan Mohtashami said at the launch of the report under the theme of ‘Sexual and Reproductive Health Inequality’ this year, that women in the developing countries die of maternal mortality because of inequality of rights given to them.

He said that in Ireland the ratio is 1 out of 12000 while in Pakistan it is 1 out of 98.

“Nearly 2.2million women in Pakistan go for abortions because of lack of awareness and facilities in reproductive health,” he added.

Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Saudia Arabia, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are above the graph in providing reproductive health facilities to women in the country.

He said it will be difficult for the country to achieve first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) if women are not given the social rights in reproductive health.

According to the UNFPA data, out of total 207.774 million country population, 36.38 is living in urban areas while the annual average growth rate over a period of 1998 to 2017 is 2.4 per cent.

The Gender Inequality (GINI) for Pakistan as per World Bank report of 2013 is 30.7 per cent. The contraceptive prevalence rate women aged 15 to 49 ranges between 40 to 31 per cent using modern and other methods.

Executive Director (ED) National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS) Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said the indicators on the social side of the country are ‘worst’. He said Pakistan is the 5th biggest country in the world with the 207million population.

He said that the country allocates and spends fewer resources on the social side, while the unchecked growth of population is the biggest challenge for Pakistan.

“Women must be empowered with reproductive rights while the sexual and reproductive must be the priority of government,” he said.

The report said unless inequality is urgently tackled and the poorest women empowered to make their own decisions about their lives, countries could face unrest and threats to peace and to their development goals.

The costs of inequalities, including in sexual and reproductive health and rights, could extend to the entire global community’s goals, adds the new UNFPA report, entitled, “Worlds Apart: Reproductive Health and Rights in an Age of Inequality.”

Failure to provide reproductive health services, including family planning, to the poorest women can weaken economies and sabotage progress towards the number one sustainable development goal, to eliminate poverty.

Economic inequality reinforces and is reinforced by other inequalities, including those in women’s health, where only a privileged few are able to control their fertility, and, as a result, can develop skills, enter the paid labour force and gain economic power.

In most developing countries, the poorest women have the fewest options for family planning, the least access to antenatal care and are most likely to give birth without the assistance of a doctor or midwife.

Limited access to family planning translates into 89 million unintended pregnancies and 48 million abortions in developing countries annually. This does not only harm women’s health, but also restricts their ability to join or stay in the paid labour force and move towards financial independence, the report argues.

Lack of access to related services, such as affordable child care, also stops women from seeking jobs outside the home. For women who are in the labour force, the absence of paid maternity leave and employers’ discrimination against those who become pregnant amount to a motherhood penalty, forcing many women to choose between a career and parenthood.

“Countries that want to tackle economic inequality can start by tackling other inequalities, such as in reproductive health and rights, and tearing down social, institutional and other obstacles that prevent women from realizing their full potential,” Dr Kanem said.

The UNFPA report recommends focusing on the furthest behind first, in line with the United Nations blueprint for achieving sustainable development and inclusive societies by 2030. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has “envisaged a better future, one where we collectively tear down the barriers and correct disparities,” the report states. “Reducing all inequalities needs to be the aim. Some of the most powerful contributions can come from realizing – women’s reproductive rights.”

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. 

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