The studies were carried by the Population Council Pakistan in collaboration with the Guttmacher Institute, USA. The research on induced abortions and unintended pregnancies revealed a rising trend in an annual abortion rate among women aged 15 to 49 in Pakistan during the last 10 years which has jumped from 27 per 1,000 women in 2002 to 50 per 1,000 women in 2012. According to the reports, the proportion of unintended pregnancies resulting in induced abortions varied among provinces. Sindh and Balochistan had the highest proportions of induced abortions with 62 per cent and 63 per cent respectively, while the lowest was found in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with 40 per cent and Punjab with 54 per cent — which is equal to the national level — according to one of the reports. “In 2012, approximately nine million pregnancies were reported in Pakistan, of which 4.2 million were unintended and 34 per cent of them ended in unplanned births while 54 per cent concluded in abortions,” says the report. During the same year, 623,000 women were treated for post-abortion complications and 62 per cent of all such cases were treated by untrained service providers.
The studies call for a dire need to accelerate and strengthen the family planning to effectively implement strategies to improve quality and coverage of post-abortion services. It further recommends for provision of counseling on post-abortion care at both public and private healthcare facilities. The study on contraceptive use highlights major obstacles in adoption of family planning services and its continuation. The study has examined not only the low use of contraceptives in Pakistan but also the alarmingly high rate of discontinuation of family planning methods. Meanwhile, health experts expressed grave concern over the increasing gap between supply and demand of family planning services in the country. They said that due to lack of awareness most women consider induced abortion as one of the methods of family planning.
Guttmacher Institute Vice-President Dr Susheela said the unmet need for family planning was one of the major reasons behind the increase in the induced abortions in the country which put life of a woman at stake. Population Council Country Director Dr Zeba Sathar said there was a dire need to reduce the gap between the supply and demand of family planning services as Pakistan has one of the highest rates of discontinuation of contraceptive use. She expressed concern over the untrained service providers who do not provide proper counseling to couples regarding the use of contraceptives for the sake of making money, which often results in complications.
Dr Nasser Mohiuddin from the Institute of Population Studies said after the devolution of the health ministry provinces have not yet chalked out policies to address issues such as family planning.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2015