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To acknowledge the services of our Champions and to celebrate two decades of MSS’ services in the Reproductive Healthcare sector an event was organized on 17th October, 2011 at a local hotel, attended by MSS’ family members from across the country. The occasion was graced by the presence of Mr. Dana Hovig (CEO, Marie Stopes International). Dr. Mohsina Bilgrami (Managing Director, MSS) shared the 20 year journey MSS has taken with the support of MSI. Efforts were commended and the resolve to do more, further outreach, serve the underserved and meet the unmet need was strengthened.
25% of couples who want HTSP services are not receiving them. It was argued that if the sector targets this cohort and strategizes around the barriers to access to services, they could bring about significant, positive impact in maintaining a healthy balance between Pakistan’s population and its resources.
Discussions explored strategies to promote and improve access to contraception, specifically with relation to the role of the private and public sector in a post-devolution context, and the role of social marketing in bringing about attitudinal and behaviour change. Participants agreed that there is collaboration between private institutions and the government in leveraging initiatives and bridging gaps with potential for more. Stress was given on the importance of training and capacity-building of mid-level service providers in providing modern contraceptive measures, as a key intervention in reducing unmet needs in rural areas.
The event concluded with a message of home and optimism from Mr. Dana Hovig (CEO, MSI). Mr. Hovig recounted his time living in Pakistan in the mid-90s and how the country made a deep and lasting place in his heart. He commended the leaders in the reproductive health sector, notably the women, for all their successful accomplishments over the years in providing choices to women, and their unending dedication to this cause. Mr. Hovig shared a promise he had made at the turn of the millennium to baby girls in Pakistan: that by 2020, they would have the same choices in reproductive health as women in the developed world. He expressed a firm belief that this is a promise that is possible to deliver if the people in this field continue working with the same level of passion and commitment.
MSS’ Suraj Social Franchising initiative was one of the few programmes from around the globe which was recognized as one of the top achiever in terms of quality for which an award was received by Mr. Jamshed Asghar on MSS’ behalf. The award was conferred in the first Global Conference on Social Franchising held in Mombasa, Kenya during 9-11 November, 2011 and was hosted by the Global Health Group of the University of California, San Francisco
(UCSF). The event was supported by a range of donors namely, Rockfeller Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the research arm of WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research – HRP.
Contraceptive Social Marketing (CSM) and MSS’ efforts for spreading awareness regarding reproductive health and family planning were lauded. Mr. Hanif Ahmed Aurakzai (Secretary PWD, KPK) and Dr. Shabeena Raza (Chief, Health Sector Reform Unit, Health Department, KPK). Agreement was reached that in order to make the society more peaceful and progressive; women should be empowered and given full rights to make choices. These remarks were made when CSM and MSS achieved another milestone by launching Femplant in KPK on 29th November, 2011 at a local hotel in Peshawar. The event was attended by participants who included representatives of Population Welfare Department (PWD), Ministry of Health (MoH) and other partner organizations. Mr. Noor Nawaz Khattak (Director General, PWD), Mr. Hedayat (Deputy Director, PWD) and Dr. Najma Sultana (Director Technical, PWD) graced the occasion with their presence as guest of honours. As shared in the previous issues of Choices, Contraceptive Social Marketing (CSM) has previously conducted two Training Inaugration events in Islamabad and Karachi.
Our 0800 22333 call center moved to the Virtual World (TRG) in October 2011. With this transition we have use of better technology in addressing our callers’ concerns which enables us to receive more calls to counsel and guide our callers.
“Attending these meetings has raised my awareness about modern methods of Family Planning (FP)” said Muhammad Naeem Ahmedani, an Assistant Education Officer (AEO) from Rajanpur. He has two children and is employed in the Education Department and has been recruited as a Community Support Group (CSG) member in Rajanpur district.
The purpose of CSG is to recruit prominent male stakeholders and gatekeepers from the local communities to be advocates for awareness about the family planning services being provided by the project’s service providers. The CSG initiative is a set of meetings carried out in each of the intervention districts under the project “EVIDENCE FOR INNOVATING TO SAVE LIVES”. The project itself is supported by Research and Advocacy Fund (RAF).
Naeem has attended two CSG meetings, between June and September 2011 and has found them to be very helpful. He said “we (my spouse and I) consulted each other and opted for an Intra Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) service. We learnt that it provides a 5 year hassle free service.” He further added “I think such meetings should take place on a regular basis so that more and more families can benefit by having better awareness regarding family planning methods.”
MSS is engaged in an exciting 24 month advocacy initiative: “Postabortion Care – From Pledge to Practice”, supported by Research and Advocacy Fund (RAF). The project is advocating for the institutionalization of comprehensive postabortion care (PAC) services in all policies, guidelines, protocols and standards for healthcare throughout Pakistan as declared in the Karachi Declaration, so that no woman has to suffer morbidity or lose her life owing to lack of availability or access to services.
Through this initiative, MSS is engaging with stakeholders in all provinces at three levels: government/policy makers, healthcare providers and health facility managers, and community leaders/gatekeepers. The goal is to have PAC services acknowledged and prioritized, as these services impact maternal mortality and the wellbeing of families. The project reiterates the need for intensive efforts to address identified gaps in comprehensive postabortion care provision and scale it up as one of the ‘best practices’ declared in the Karachi Declaration to improve Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH).
This initiative is steered by a rich group of experts forming a ‘National Steering Committee’, who design and oversee advocacy activities for all provinces; a dynamic group of ‘champions’ to personally take the message to relevant stakeholders; and the media, to enhance the general public’s awareness and acceptance of Maternal Healthcare as a key intervention in saving women’s lives. The project is currently honing the focus of its advocacy strategy toward up-to-date policies and curricula through the Department of Health, and access to and availability of information and services in remote areas.
MSS had the opportunity to present its ‘Suraj’ Social Franchising at ‘Social Protection Strategies and Health Financing to Safeguard Reproductive Health for the Poor’ seminar organized by HSA. In keeping with the same theme, and in recognition of MSS’ contributions. Dr. Mohsina Bilgrami was invited to chair session titled ‘Social Protection and Health Care Financing’ during HSA’s second Annual Public Health Conference. Mr Waqas Hameed presented MSS’ social franchising model in a session titled ‘Issues in Pro-Poor Financing for Health.’ The conference aimed to facilitate collaboration, communication and learning across all disciplines and sectors. MSS, being one of the partners made this conference possible and also had an active participation and visibility in the event. Both the events were organized at the HSA, Islamabad on 17th November, 2011 and 1-2 December, 2011 respectively.
Sheema Kirmani shared her personal life experiences with regards to women’s rights in Pakistan. She showed some interactive videos after which participants raised question and gave suggestions on how women can play a part to bring change in the society. Ms. Kirmani, a renowned classical dancer, choreographer and women’s rights actitivist was invited by MSS as its Guest Speaker for a session to provide space for an open dialogue amongst colleagues on 16th December, 2011 at the MSS Support Office.
Participants at the 3rd Learn @ Lunch session on 26th October received in-depth information about Existing Operations’ structure and working methodologies through an interactive an informative session conducted by Mr. Shahrukh Alam Butt (Manager, Operations Monitoring, MSS). In the following Learn @ Lunch (16th December) Mr. Jamshed Asghar (Deputy Senior Manager, Private Provider Partnership, MSS) and Dr. Ashfaque Ahmed (Senior Manager, MSS) provided valuable information on the Uniject Project, Community Based Mobilizers (CBM) and the social franchise Suraj model. “Learn @ Lunch” is an effort to inform teams during lunch and making lunch time fun and informative. At its simplest, “Learn @ Lunch” programme is an informal open discussion session scheduled during lunch time. Participants are provided with an opportunity to learn about issues concerning MSS, exchange views share experiences.
MSS’ Research and Metrics (R&M) and Communications and Marketing (C&M) teams have moved into recently setup extension of the support office. Designed and refurbished with a professional and modern look. Teams are well settled in and enjoying the new settings.