Former Secretary of the Government of Nepal Dr. Ram Hari Aryal is also a demographer. Aryal chaired one of the meetings of the regional conference and talked to NEW SPOTLIGHT about the importance of the conference in the context of ICPD beyond 2014. Excepts:
How does the consultation matter for us?
It was a very important meeting in the present context as the twenty years of International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) plan of action is coming to an end next year. One generation of population has already passed since the implementation of plan of action. People born in 1994 are a new generation now. The present demographic divide is those who were born in that period. The time has come to give message to those adolescents and young. The message of ICPD is yet to reach to all. To carry the message of ICPD to the level is very important.
Why is ICPD important?
We must not forget that ICPD is not a supermarket where one can buy everything. One has to take whatever one needs. We need to prepare for the list of family planning and reproductive health and mobilize resources as per ICPD. There are so many things are included in ICPD but all of them are not applicable for all the countries. We need to identify the applicable issues. The twenty years plan of action made by ICPD is going to end. The discussion is now focused on what should be done after 2014. This kind of meeting is important to know what target the region and countries cannot meet and requirements for further programs.
How do you see the achievements?
Despite achievements in certain areas, there are still a lot of problems in the areas of reproductive health and family planning. Data has shown that there are similarities and disparities as well. This regional level consultative meeting helped to identify the problems faced by the region. For instance, the TFR (Total Fertility Rate) of all South Asian countries is less than 3 percent but Pakistan still has over 5 percent. Afghanistan has the highest. Similarly, there are many disparities in the areas of family planning and unmet needs. In that sense, this kind of high level meeting has its own significance.
What are the weaknesses?
One of the weaknesses is that there is no coordinator monitoring mechanism in the region. South Asian countries need to share their own experiences and knowledge when there is still low level of involvement of male and adolescent youth. This workshop helped to send the message that South Asia should not to be forgotten.