The Population Research Centre (PRC), Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi hosted its first research conference, in collaboration with the School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS), IBA in Karachi, last Monday.
The conference brought together researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to a common platform to discuss Pakistan’s population problems and consider their solutions in the light of emerging contexts.
The inaugural session was presided over by the First Lady Begum Samina Arif Alvi. The Keynote speaker was Dr. Sameen Siddiqi, Professor and Chair Department of Community Health Sciences AKUH. Dr.
Siddiqi talked about the implications of population growth on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), part of SDG-3 and to be achieved by year 2030.
The first panel discussion was titled ‘The Challenges of Fertility Planning in Pakistan: An Exploration of Societal, Cultural, and Policy Perspectives’. The panelists included, Dr. Saman Naz, Public Health scientist; Dr. Saima Bashir, Joint Secretary Population Association of Pakistan; and Dr. Rafi Amir ud-din, Associate Professor COMSATS University Islamabad. The session was moderated by Dr. Lubna Naz, Associate Professor, IBA. The discussion focused on the various challenges that Pakistani individuals and couples face when it comes to planning their fertility. The panelists explored the societal and cultural pressures that influence fertility decisions, as well as the policy and infrastructure barriers that exist.
The technical sessions included various presentations from researchers and scholars representing institutes from all over Pakistan. The second panel was ‘Addressing Maternal and Child Health Issues in Pakistan: Challenges and Opportunities’. The panelists included Dr. Talib Lashari, Technical Advisor & Focal Person CIP; Dr. Syed Aziz ur Rab, CEO Greenstar Social Marketing; Dr. Saba Shuja, ECD Development Manager Nutrition Section, UNICEF; Dr. Sadiah Ahsan Pal, Consultant ObGyn; and Ms. Sheena Hadi Director, Ahung. The session was moderated by Aliya Iqbal Naqvi, Faculty SESS, IBA. The panel discussed challenges and opportunities for improving maternal and child health in Pakistan, including limited healthcare access, cultural norms, poverty, and safe family planning mechanisms. Experts explored solutions such as increasing healthcare access, improving nutrition, promoting awareness for family planning, and investing in education and infrastructure.
The theme for the Population Research Conference 2023 was ‘Emerging Demographic Challenges’. The sub-themes for the conference were: (i) Fertility Behaviour/Fertility Planning, (ii) Maternal and Child Health, (iii) Food Insecurity, (iv) Climate Change and Population, (v) Identity, Ethnicity and Social Inclusion.
The event concluded with remarks by Dr. G. M. Arif and Dr. Arfa Sayeda Zehra, who spoke shortly before dinner for the panelists and speakers.