☰ Menu

GFMER Country Coordinators

Anjum Ara Saeed

GFMER Coordinator for Pakistan

Anjum Ara Saeed

Anjum Ara Saeed, MBBS, DGO
Obstetrician and Gynecologist PAF Pakistan

I was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1969. I did my graduation from F.G. College for Women, Rawalpindi and got my MBBS degree from Rawalpindi Medical College in 1993. I did my internship at Holy Family Hospital in the departments of Paediatrics and Obstetrics/ Gynaecology. I joined armed forces in 1995. Since then I have been serving in different parts of my country. After entering into my professional career, I had the opportunity to observe first hand the lack of basic knowledge regarding maternal and child health, nutrition, immunization and female empowerment in rural suburbs of my country.

I started my contribution to address these discrepancies by facilitating and coordinating the, ‘National Seminar on Family Planning and Contraceptive… Devices’ in 2005 at Ayub auditorium, Army Medical College, Rawalpindi. My ambition lead me to volunteer for training at MCH centre at MH Rawalpindi in 2005 and got my DGO in 2008. Representing my organization at National Conference (MDG 5) in 2013, and again in 15th Biennial International Scientific Conference on “Bridging the gaps in Women Health Issues”, SOGP 2014 were few of the endeavours I pursued in this regard.

The research course on Sexual and Reproductive Health by GFMER in 2014, and the final workshop in September 2015, strengthened my resolve even more, and helped with my publications and the ones under submission.

Member national/ international medical groups/committees

  • Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC)
  • Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)
  • Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research (GFMER)


  • Awarded Scholarship by the Education Directorate, Pakistan in 1979 and again in 1982
  • 2014: Geneva State travel grant to attend GFMER Training Workshop
  • 2019: Awarded Tamgha-I-imtiaz (Medal of Distinction) from Government of Pakistan.

Intergrowth-21st and Interpractice-21st workshop on 28th November 2018

Organizing and conducting the hands on workshop for The Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research (GFMER), on its two training courses, Intergrowth-21st and interpractice-21st in November 2018 in Pakistan, was an exhilarating experience! It not only provided a good learning opportunity for health care workers regarding health care dynamics responsible for about 2.7 million deaths among children under the age of five annually, worldwide, but also highlighted the importance of maternal and neonatal anthropometry in tackling the widespread problem of malnutrition, which attributes to half of these deaths.

Both the faculty and the participants appreciated the efforts of the sponsor (GFMER) in introducing the international standard tools of anthropometry in Pakistan. Their importance can be appreciated in the light of stated prevalence of under-5 stunting rate in Pakistan as high as 44%! (The Regional Analysis Network in collaboration with iRiS, ‘Stunting in Pakistan’, A Trends Analysis of Underlying Factors By 2030 (Asia/ February2017))

Country situation

Pakistan is the sixth most populous country of 180 million with the third highest burden of maternal and children mortality across the globe with MMR of 178 and under five mortality rate as high as 74.9 per 1000 births (UNICEF-2015). The country has suffered more than its fair share in the wake of terrorism, regional political instability, economic paucity and policy implementation constrains due to insufficient financial investment in human resource. These coupled with population explosion has led to apparent regional disparities between urban and rural area and growing socio-economic inequalities.

Adolescents constituting around 33% of the total population are the worst effected. Undergoing rapid physical and psychological changes, with illiteracy and scarce financial resources, has made them vulnerable to malnutrition, stunting, and health threatening sexual behaviours. It is unfortunate that there is no reliable objective data from either rural non urban areas of Pakistan concerning adolescent issues.

WHO being the lead health agency, is working along with its partners, to support the Government of Pakistan in reaching its national health development goals. The partners include other United Nations agencies such as UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP and UNDP, donors and academic institutions. It is providing technical support to the Department of Health for translating the National Health Vision (2016-2025) into 5-year Costed Strategic Action Plans for the country. These plans aim to provide guidance for domestic and foreign resource mobilization to support reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health programs. In addition, WHO has also committed to support development of monitoring and evaluation frameworks for tracking progress against the above mentioned action plans and achieving the set targets. 

Despite the efforts, The National Nutrition Survey 2018 presented by the Government of Pakistan on 10 June 2019 gave the figures of,’… 4 in 10 under five children are stunted. The 473 000 children under five in the eight drought-affected districts were acutely malnourished and in need of emergency lifesaving nutrition interventions.  The main factors contributing to acute malnutrition included very poor food consumption with the majority of households with low dietary diversity and high prevalence of diseases...’ The survey was conducted by the Ministry of National Health Services, with technical support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and DFID.  Speaking at the occasion, Joanna Reid, Head of DFID Pakistan said, “DFID is proud to have supported the National Nutrition Survey, but the findings are very concerning.” 

Until recently, Pakistan was rated as low prevalence country (0.1 per cent) for HIV, but, the recent outbreak in Ratodero area of Larkana Sindh, has been labelled as a “Grade 2 Emergency”, by WHO through a report released on June 03, 2019. The report further recommends procurement of Rapid HIV Diagnostic kits (RDTs) and medicines in addition to human resource development through training of health workers and optimizing Infection Prevention and Control at community level through access to didactic and practical education in the field of sexual and reproductive health, especially in the field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

Pakistan like any developing country urgently needs to generate opportunities to benefit from its demographic dividend, address the terrorist threat, and allocate scare resource among competing priorities. Tackling chronic malnutrition, confronting population growth, introducing preventive and curative services regarding sexual health and diseases among the adolescents with access to appropriate information, education and services appears to be the main challenge for health care planners and policy makers, today.

Being a GFMER country coordinator, health related information and tools pertaining to national, provincial and district levels challenges like malnutrition, family planning and adolescent health will be communicated and channelized to training institutions to create an effective and integrated disease surveillance system. Will aim at establishing a nexus by recruiting volunteers among the health professionals and students for a research oriented analysis of the socioeconomic issues effecting health in the context of adolescent population in Pakistan, because issues such as under- nourishment, infections, illiteracy, sexual health preferences and child birth should be studied in the context of adolescent population. Thus a range of actions can be initiated within the health and social sectors for the lasting progress and positive impact on the lives of the people of my country.