Syed Khurram Azmat

Syed Khurram Azmat - 2016 Nominee
Position: Academic Project Coordinator/PhD Candidate (Ghent)
Organization: The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada
Dr. Azmat was the Lead Researcher at Marie Stopes Society Pakistan and a consultant for WHO, Geneva. He has authored 20 plus papers & a book on family planning in Pakistan. At present, he is a PhD candidate (Ghent, Belgium) & working with SickKids. – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I feel the need to highlight the type of work that I continue to do as the outcomes of this work make a contribution to save women lives coz I try to model contraceptive use behavior which we all cherish and respect and yet in Pakistan is not well supported. So establishing a first-ever evidence base on models (> 20 papers, book & reports) for promoting modern contraceptive use through multi-pronged approaches where healthcare financing; task sharing and public-private partnerships plays key role. Work in Family planning and women health is difficult in Pakistan. The rights of women are not well recognized, the work is not held in high regard by others in the medical area, and yet I continue to invest my energy into this worthwhile field to enhancing the rights and well-being of women.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

Despite six decades of government and private sector programs, CPR in Pakistan is among the lowest in the region. The reliance on the utility of evidence is almost negligible when it comes to programming modern FP. Whether it is policy maker or a program manager, they seem reluctant to use the knowledge for policy and practice. Above all, lack of credible evidence of what really works in promoting modern FP use led transforming my passion into commitment to develop the first ever evidence-base!

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?

Whether it is the policy maker or a program manager, they seem reluctant to use the knowledge for policy and practice. These decision makers must also grapple with the broader development goals of education for girls and engagement of women into the paid labor force. Experience from other countries clearly supports the dogma that until society realizes an economic and social benefit in educating and employing women, family planning programs fail to achieve their full success.

What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

During the past 50 years, extensive debate on the focus of modern family planning programming in Pakistan continues, often overlooking the central argument for strategic evidence-based approach to addressing the underlying determinants of poor performance hovering on a slowly increasing trend in contraceptive prevalence rate, continuing high unmet need, increased rates of abortions and a high method discontinuation. Evidence based programming through public-private partnership is a way forward.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Irrespective of the focus of family planning programming, the stagnation in the CPR over the past several years demands a strategic re-thinking of the programming approach. At a time when Pakistan is facing several development challenges, the core demand for a holistic family planning program that is well integrated in the health care delivery system at primary, secondary and tertiary levels & provides high quality modern FP services supported by robust political commitment at all levels.

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