27 September, 2011

Population management can help develop nation

Published in Pakistan Observer (27 Sept. 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Manageable population can lead to progress of the country while the uncontrolled population rise can result in shortage of basic necessities of life. This point of concern was raised at national seminar on World Contraception Day held on Monday in Islamabad.
Senator Suriya Amiruddin noted that “with a population of 177 million, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country of the world” and added that Pakistan has the highest population growth rate in the world at around 2.05% and if the populace keep mounting with same rate, Pakistan is likely to become 4rth most populous country of the world by 2050.

“To address this serious issue, the population policy 2010 has formulated a strategy to reduce the rate to 1.3 per cent by 2013” she informed.
With the motto: “Live your life. Know your rights. Learn about contraception”, the seminar was aimed to aware the young people about their rights to access to correct and impartial information about contraception in order to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infection (STI). Key speakers at the seminar arranged by Planning and Development Division (PDD) Pakistan in collaboration with USAID and UNFPA included Senator Suriya Amiruddin, Chairperson of National Trust for Population welfare (NATPOW); Dr. Mumtaz Esker, Director General of PDD; Rabbi Royan, representative of UNFPA; Katherine Crawford, director of USAID's office of Public Health in Pakistan and Shahzad Ahmad Malik, Chief of the PDD.

Dr. Mumtaz observed that “with the current maternal mortality rate of 276 deaths per 100,000 live births, infant mortality rate of 78 deaths for 1,000 live births, sincere and well-timed efforts are essential to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.”
Linking the reproductive health with achievement of other goals, she said that “it is almost impossible to make Pakistan a land of peace and prosperity without a manageable population.”

Referring to the Pakistan Demographic Health Survey (PDHS) 2008, Dr. Mumtaz told that contraceptive prevalence rate is stagnant at about 30 percent and the unmet need for contraception still stands at 25 percent, which is lowest even when compared to other Muslim countries.

The speakers were of the view that Pakistan has to increase the contraceptive prevalence rate up to 60%. "Pakistan needs to integrate birth spacing programs as it is critical for the future of Pakistan economically and socially” stressed Katherine.

Shahzad Ahmad was of the view that “rapid population growth rate in Pakistan is resulting in shortage of educational facilities, health services, food, living space, clean water, housing units and fossil fuels which will make people suffer in the coming years.”

Rabbi Royan underlined that “family planning campaign in Pakistan which started in early 1960’s has lost its momentum; the drive needs to be revitalized on urgent basis. At the same time, political will and private sector partnership will play a decisive role to bring into focus the issue of rapid population growth.”

“One of the main reasons for low contraceptive use is fear of side effects. This information was revealed during our health campaign in 15 districts of Pakistan” informed Dr. Ali Muhammad Mir, chief of Falah project of Population council. “We enlightened the people that family planning is not against the Islamic spirit as it is being practiced in many Muslim countries.”