As the strategic communication partner of Sukh Initiative, Center for Communication Programs Pakistan co-organized a workshop titled ‘Family Planning: Need for Social Behavior Change’ and facilitated field visits for faculty and students of Media Sciences Department of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST). The half-day workshop was held on November 11, 2017 at the Institute’s Karachi campus, in view of the agreement reached between Aman Health Care Services and SZABIST to cooperate for developing short videos on various themes of family planning under the umbrella of Sukh Initiative – the first urban family project of Pakistan. This focused activity aimed at orienting the select group of faculty and student of Media Sciences Department on family planning and developing their insights on the related contemporary issues.
Besides the select group, a large section of students from various academic disciplines also participated in the workshop. The event comprised of expert talks and interactive sessions conducted by three officials of the Center and two project leads from Sukh Initiative. The Head of Sukh Initiative, Dr. Haris Ahmed, made a detailed presentation titled ‘Family Planning and Maternal Health Paradigm – The Need of the Hour’, and build the case for curbing population growth in the wake of growing poverty and low national development. He in particular talked about the vicious cycle of high population growth and the need for greater focus on family planning, maternal and reproductive health.
Mr. Lutaf A. Mangrio, Head of Operations Sukh Initiative, deliberated on problems and challenges of Karachi due to rapid urbanization. His presentation was a clarion call to the youth alarming them about the population growth as a time bomb and the immediate actions required to mitigate urbanization. In her presentation on ‘Social and Behavioral Challenges in Uptake of Family Planning’, Ms. Mahwish Gul, Program Officer, Center for Communication Programs Pakistan, highlighted different myths and misconceptions that have plagued our communities and have crippled our social growth. Her presentation primarily based on the latest Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, pinpointed the high unmet need for family planning.
Also in the first session of the workshop, Dr. Haris elucidated the development model being implemented by Sukh Initiative in Karachi with an objective to introduce the various programmatic interventions of Sukh Initiative creating enabling environment in the uptake of family planning methods.
During the second session, technical presentations were made by communication experts from Center for Communication Programs Pakistan, Dr. Atif Ikram Butt (Executive Director) and Mr. Ehtesham Abbas (Senior Media Advisor). These presentations rich with audio-visual content, educated the participants about social norms, behavior change theories, positive deviance and community dialogue tool, and invigorated fresh enthusiasm in the young participants which led to healthy interactive discussions. These discussions were followed by deliberations on the selected themes for developing short inspirational videos on family planning. The Head of Operations, Sukh Initiative, Mr. Lutaf A. Mangrio identified the broad themes to be ‘women empowerment’ and ‘responsible adulthood’ and gave an inkling about the human interest stories the students can pick for developing the stories.
All in all, the orientation workshop comprising expert lectures around population dynamics, family planning, urbanization, development challenges and then the interactive discussions with communication specialists helped pave grounds for creative thinking and enhanced cognitive and intellectual prowess of the participants.
In order to reinforce the theoretical learning made by the participants at the workshop, the Center also organized two-day field visits on November 13-14, 2017. The selected group of students from SZABIST Media Sciences Department witnessed first-hand the innovative measures taken by Sukh Initiative in its catchment areas for increasing the uptake of family planning.
In the first leg of visits, the group was taken to the field office of Aman Community Health Program (ACHP) in view of the first theme for inspirational videos on ‘women empowerment’. The visitors received briefing from a senior ACHP official, Dr. M. Azam and the field coordinator, Mr. Jamshed Ahmed who highlighted the strong role being played by the group of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in addressing myths and misconceptions around family planning and stimulating positive behavioral change in the community members. The group availed the opportunity to directly interact with female community health supervisor and community health workers and understand the challenges they face in their day-to-day household visits in the communities.
Also, on November 13, 2017, the students’ group visited a private health clinic that is run under ‘Dhanak’ franchise of DKT Pakistan – Sukh Initiative’s implementation partner for improving access and quality of family planning services at private health facilities. The doctor at the clinic informed that since the clinic got Dhanak franchise, the influx of family planning clients has gradually increased and has resulted in a win-win situation for clinic and clients. She noted that the community members find it very convenient to avail services near their homes and that too of quality standard. She also explained the referral mechanism instilled by Sukh Initiative whereby the CHWs or Telehealth call agents direct the family planning clients to their nearby health facilities.
Finally the students were taken to a public health facility, Sindh Government Hospital at Korangi. Dr. Nafeesa Bano of Jhpiego – Sukh Initiative’s implementation partner for improving access and quality of family planning services at public health facilities – briefed the students on how Jhpiego with the support of Sukh Initiative is improving quality of services at public health facilities through specialized capacity building and back to back training activities. She also showed around the ‘Skill Lab’ established at the hospital with the support of Sukh Initiative.
In the second leg of field visits, focused on the second theme for short videos ‘responsible adulthood’, the students were taken to ‘Youth Friendly Space’ (YFS) established by Aahung – Sukh Initiative’s partner for Life Skills based Education. The visiting students and faculty member were informed that Aahung has adopted multiple outreach strategies to raise awareness about family planning amongst the youth and imparts life skills based education for school going children and adolosents, as well as for out-of-school children and youth of the community. The Coordinator YFS, Ms. Mussarat Jabeen explained the concept with which the YFS was established to cater to out-of-school adolescents in particular. She note that at YFS, youth are provided an enabling environment to learn critical lessons to deal with challenges of growing age, which includes improving their interpersonal communication skills. It was informed that besides other activities, a qualified psychologist deputed at YFS helps distressed youth through counseling sessions.
To showcase the impact of life skills based education amongst school going children, the students’ group was taken to Nasra Public School, where they interacted with students undergoing life skills curriculum approved by the Government of Sindh. To introduce Telehealth intervention, SZABIST students were then taken to Aman Foundation, where the Manager Telehealth, Mr. Atif Ali oriented the visiting group about the operations of Telehealth and how Telehealth component has drastically improved the access to health services for the beneficiary communities.
The field visit activity concluded with students attending presentations at Aman Foundation by senior officials of Aman Health Care Services and Sukh Initiative for the visiting Country Engagement Working Group (CEWG). On the occasion, the students visited the stalls of Sukh Initiative project partners especially set up for the working group.