‘All parties to include health, hygiene issues in manifestos’

  • Dr Abid Suleri says women also facing discrimination in parliament despite positive contribution

ISLAMABAD: The speakers of the women, health and hygiene conference on Monday emphasised that women health should be realised as the national health issue.

The conference, arranged by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), focused on women reproductive and mental health, human rights, menstrual hygiene and associated taboos. Addressing the event, Parliamentary Affairs Secretary MNA Romina Alam Khan said that the conference’s title was the key component of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She said that the women health and human rights had gained momentum and it was necessary to believe the fact that a healthy woman ensure hale and hearty family beside a strong nation. MNA Romina said that midwives should be sensitised and trained to avoid serious harm to female reproductive health as lack of education and facilities contributed to increased maternal mortalities and complications.

She said that the grass root level engagement and mobilisation on such serious feminine health issues had been done on the part of the government. Inspector General of Pakistan Railway Police Dr Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Khan said that the issue of women health and hygiene belongs to the entire society.

He said that the healthy female population not only contributes to GDP growth rather national health. He said that the Railway Police at present had three percent lady officials working in the force and they had planned to extend this ratio to 30 percent. He said that the police was working with the UN Women programme to enhance its performance with better facilities for female officers.

“Society has to change its outlook towards women to improve their health status,” he added. SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that young girls were the harbingers of change, adding that the National Human Development Report 2017, Human Development Index revealed that out of 100 young people between 16-30 years of age, only six had access to library, seven could participate in physical activities, only two girls had participated in sports activities and 23 percent of women were part of the labour force.

He said that all SDGs were directly linked with women while they faced discrimination in the parliament in spite of the fact that they were contributing positively to improve legislation. He said that it was required to work on collecting SDGs data at district level while gender segregated data would be composed to report on gender disparity with the help of the next government.

He hoped that all the political parties would include women health and hygiene issues in their manifestos for elections 2018. Speaking on the occasion, Prof Dr Syeda Batool Mazhar said that the young and older women had health issues that required attention and proper care. She said that Pakistan had highest mortality rate while reproductive health issues were due to early marriages and pregnancies contributing to female health complications.

She lamented that the primary healthcare institutes were not functional and the health standards were worst. She was optimistic that Pakistan had all required laws being legislated and its implementation would make our nation the healthiest in the world. The health experts were unanimous in their approach that lack of education and communication among mother and child, unhygienic practices were the major cause of reproductive health and menstrual issues causing female bad health and other complications.

They believed that education and effective awareness among youth particularly high school female students would help to control the issue. Reproductive health and menstrual issues were associated as taboos in the society which needs to be abolished as women need guidance and support from the society for a healthy future, they added.