Impact of Family Planning Programs in Pakistan

Family planning programs in Pakistan have gained importance but still struggle from making significant progress in improving the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) in Pakistan. The last two Demographic Health Surveys (2012 and 2016) show little change in the CPR and that is concerning.

One reason for slow uptake (and a shortcoming) of family planning programming is the low engagement of men as key partners in the decision-making process. There is a need to identify successes and failures in past programs to ensure better service delivery in the future,” 57 year old Muhammad Aurangzeb, resident of Dhok Hassu Rawalpindi, expressed his thoughts on family planning programs.

Engaging men in family planning education becomes more important in a low-income urban community like Dhok Hassu, where the fertility rates are high and contraceptive use low, partly owing to factors such as unequal gender norms and men’s dominant role in contraceptive decision-making. The PPIF-funded initiative implemented by AHKRC adopts an inclusive approach i.e. engaging men, as a way to increase the uptake of birth-spacing behavior and contraceptive use, and is a response to the needs of the community.

“We regularly see AHKRC’s Noor Aapis going around the neighborhood and counseling women on reproductive health issues and family planning. I myself attended some sessions conducted by the male social mobilizers to educate men,” Muhammad said, “The people involved in the PPIF project have also benefitted from the project because women now have separate sources of income, and the fact that they are from within our own community means that they are easy to approach and ask for information.”

He reported that he had seen visible changes within the community, with people slowly becoming more aware, and discussing the roles of the male social mobilizers and Noor Aapis in the propagation of family planning. In the last community session based on unmet need and family planning he had attended, Muhammad said that he heard a social mobilizer say that the contraceptive prevalence rate had increased in the neighborhood.

Muhammad further stated, “Engaging men through this multifaceted approach has paid significant dividends, in my opinion, by positively influencing husbands’ acceptance of family planning. As an elder of the community, many men gather at my house for meetups, and I noticed a gradual change in men: modern contraceptive acceptance and uptake was indeed higher for those who attended PPIF funded AHKRC health events.”