Population Control

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Current situation

Pakistan’s current population stands at 207.8 million, according to provisional results of 2017 census reported by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. A large population poses threat to developing countries because of lack of health care, lack of education facilities and poor economy. The population growth and development are inversely correlated. Inadequate access to healthcare facilities, poor supply of nutrition to mothers and children, are some of the factors that slow down the pace of development over a period of time (Nakhunda, 2018).

 According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report tilted, titled The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition, Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world with an annual population growth rate of 2.4pc (Junaidi, 2018). According to experts at a panel discussion regarding family planning organized by the Dow University of Health Sciences, ineffective measures and low-quality services and unavailability of contraceptives lead to poor family planning. 75 percent of population is aware of family planning but no practical implementation on better family planning is properly observed. If this continues, it will cause an increase in poverty and mortality rates of mothers and children.

Promises

1. We will ensure the adequate availability of contraception to all married women of reproductive age (MWRA) through the population welfare and healthcare network of Basic Health Units, Lady Health Workers and Community Midwives.

2.  We will build on the existing consensus from religious leaders of all major schools of jurisprudence on using temporary birth spacing methods and publicize their endorsement at the community and household level.

3.  We will revitalize national family planning programmes, including providing airtime on national television to promote behavior change and increase uptake and continuation of contraception.

Progress

1 November 2018

A panel constituted by the Supreme Court has suggested reserving Rs10 billion for population control measures, including provision of information about family planning and mother care. The federal government is to create a five-year non-lapsable Special Fund for reducing Population Growth Rate with annual allocation of Rs10 billion. The Fund shall be set up exclusively from federal resources without any cut from provincial funds.  The panel also recommended the formation of task forces at the federal and provincial levels to help reduce the rate of population growth.

The task force on population growth recommended Family Planning and Reproductive Health (FP&RH) Rights Bill to ensure mandatory FP&RH services by all general healthcare facilities in public and private sector. Further, mass movement leading to a call of action to be launched involving political leaders, corporate sector, academia, judiciary, executive, ulema, media, civil society and youth. Behavioral Change Communication campaign to highlight the roles and responsibilities of men in family planning. The recommendations are also made for Incentivizing Local Production of Contraceptives.

19 November 2018

The Federal and the provincial governments decided to form task forces within their jurisdictions to control rapid population growth. The task forces will be headed by the prime minister at the national level and by the respective chief ministers at the provincial levels. The process of establishment of task forces will be completed within 48 hours. The task forces will devise a comprehensive action plan, taking into account the future implementation strategy, the financial aspects and other issues relating to garnering support of all segments of society.

25 November 2018

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar, will hold a two-day conference on population control in December. The conference will be organized by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) on December 12 and 13. PM Imran Khan is also invited.

4 December 2018

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar headed a conference on the alarming population growth in Pakistan. PM Imran Khan while addressing the conference said that religious scholars need to step up in order to tackle the population growth, citing examples of Iran and Bangladesh where population control campaigns were done from mosques. Ministry of National Health Services Secretary Zahid Saeed said that a  nationwide campaign to highlight the issue of population control will be started in cooperation with all provinces soon.