Millions of Pakistani women and girls who are poor and live primarily in rural areas are now eligible for free postabortion and contraceptive counseling and care through action taken by the Government of Pakistan.
The services will be available through Pakistan’s national health insurance system for the poor, Sehat Sahulat, which is funded and implemented by the government and serves people living below the poverty line (currently those earning less than $2 USD per day).
“We commend the government’s responsiveness to addressing women’s and girls’ health needs,” says Ghulam Shabbir Awan, director of Ipas Pakistan, which had advocated with the Ministry of National Health Services for this new coverage. “This will greatly expand the availability and accessibility of life-saving reproductive health services, including treatment of postabortion complications and the provision of long-acting contraceptives.”
An estimated seven million women and girls living primarily in rural areas will be eligible for the servcies, which can be accessed at more than 350 private and public-sector health facilities.
Ipas Pakistan plans to work with Lady Health Workers, who are community-based and help connect women to health facilities, to spread the word about the availability of these new services.
“We want women and girls to know that this care, which will ultimately save lives, is available to them without any burden on their pockets,” says Awan.