BY ALI ABBAS
NEW YORK: Permanent Representative of Pakistan in UN, Ambassador Munir Akram has said that climate change has had a severe impact on the lives of all Pakistanis as around 33 million people got affected by the ruthless floods that struck Pakistan with the government has estimated $10 billion in losses as of now.
Addressing the 2nd regular session of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS at the adoption of Pakistan’s UNFPA Country Programme Document (2023-2027), Munir said that the recent floods in Pakistan are another manifestation of Pakistan’s high-priced proneness to natural disasters caused by climate change.
Of the 33 million people affected across the country, he said an estimated 8.2 million are women of reproductive age. According to one estimate, Munir said almost 650,000 pregnant women in the flood-affected areas require maternal health services to ensure a safe pregnancy and childbirth.
Up to 73,000 women expected to deliver next month will need skilled birth attendants, newborn care, and support.
We need to scale up the emergency response to provide life-saving reproductive health services and commodities to the affected population.
We hope UNFPA will work with us to mitigate the impacts of climate change, both now and in the longer term, especially on the young female population.
He said Pakistan appreciates the long-standing partnership and collaboration with UNFPA since the 1970s.
Highlighting the key features of Pakistan, he said the country has one of the world’s youngest populations. Almost 40% of the country’s population is under the age of 15. Among the female population, more than 48 million are in the reproductive age group. We are most conscious that our development policies, programmes and interventions must focus on equipping our population in an environment where every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
Like other developing countries, Pakistan confronts structural and systemic challenges in providing the basic needs for development, including for our young people. The Covid-19 pandemic, spiraling prices of food and energy and security challenges, have severely constrained our ability to respond to the goals of ensuring the nutritional, health, and hygienic needs of the population, particularly of the most disadvantaged among them.
We take note with appreciation of Pakistan’s draft Country Programme for the period 2023 to 2027. During the process of formulating the programme, UNFPA has conducted extensive consultations, and has taken into consideration the priorities and concerns of all stakeholders at the national level. I am certain that such collaboration between Pakistan and UNFPA will be further strengthened at all levels.
He said close and continuous coordination between the Government and UNFPA will be indispensable for the successful implementation of Country Programme Document 2023-27, and to ensure the continuity of critical services and investments in the areas of maternal health, reproductive services and family planning in line with national laws and priorities.
Pakistan observes that out of the total US$ 59 million allocated for the Country Programme, only US$ 23 million is allocated through Regular Resources and US$ 36 million is to be secured from co-financing and other resources. This indicates that around 60% of the financial resources would be met from extra-budgetary resources. We hope UNFPA will be able to secure the required funding from partners and donors to ensure the full implementation of the identified programme priorities.
A shared aim of the Government and UNFPA is to ensure that health governance systems embrace maternal health as a fundamental element. To achieve this, it will be necessary to improve availability of high-quality reproductive health services, especially through sustainable and equitable financing for the most underserved communities.
Munir said that the role of nurses, midwives and lady health workers is critical in increasing the proportion of facility-based deliveries, and reduction of prolonged labour and childbirth complications. Therefore, it is critical to train and maintain midwifery cadres according to the global standards for midwifery education.
He added that prioritizing youth empowerment in policies will remain a cornerstone in addressing long-term challenges to sustainable development. For this, there is a need to scale up policy implementation and increase investments in the populations of adolescents and youth, particularly in healthy, education and skills development.
Munir was of the view that cultural particularities and sensitivities along with national priorities are taken well into consideration in implementation of the Programme Outcomes.