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‘Pakistan is lagging behind the region in controlling population growth’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is lagging behind the countries of the region and other Islamic countries in terms of reducing its population growth and there is a need for implementing the policies drafted for this, said a representative of the United Nations Population Fund, Dr Hassan Mohtashami on Wednesday.

Dr Mohtashami was addressing an event held to launch a policy brief on the ‘Population Growth and Reproductive Health’ which was hosted by the National Institute of Population Studies (Nips).

The three page policy brief addresses the issues regarding population development and has been made in order to provide think tanks, non-government organisations, students and other stake holders with the relevant information.

Dr Mohtashami said that HIV and AIDS were spreading in Thailand in 1980s and it was feared that the majority of the population will be affected within a few years.
Experts call for policies to address the issue

“The Thai government drafted a national policy to deal with the issue under which contraceptives were distributed across the country. Immigration officers would hand them out after allowing someone entry, they were given along with the key at hotels during check-ins and the traffic police would hand them out along with a ticket. Because the government implemented the policy, the disease was prevented from spreading,” he said.

“We need that sort of urgency in Pakistan. If the country wants to develop, it has to reduce population growth,” he said.

Dr Mohtashami said he was a fan of Pakistan and is disappointed to see it lag behind.

“India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran and other countries of the region have fared much better in regards to reducing the rate of population growth. Pakistan is one of the middle income countries and is one of the least developed in terms of human resource development,’ he said.

Nips Executive Director Dr Mukhtar Ahmed also spoke at the event and said that Pakistan has the sixth largest population and was ranked 40th in terms of the economy.

“If we want to develop, we cannot afford our population to grow at the rate with which it is currently growing,” he said.

A representative of the Planning Development and Reforms Division, Qamar Abbas said the division has allocated Rs8.2 billion for development and population welfare programs for the current year.

Punjab Population Welfare Department Director Dr Afshan Tahir said the country has made national and international commitments to reduce the fertility rate from 3.3 per woman from 3.8 by 2020.

“Punjab has purchased contraceptives and has asked private doctors to distribute them and raise awareness about them. But no one talks about family planning in public meetings because of the stigma attached to the topic,” she said.

“We need to include the issue in the curriculum and reduce the barriers to the use of contraceptives, for which we have been sensitising parliamentarians,” she said.

Sindh Population Welfare Department Director Ashfaq Ali Shah said arrangements had been made in the province for raising awareness about population growth and contraception.

“We want to reduce the fertility rate to 2.1 births per woman by 2030 and for that we are coordinating with the health departments,” he said.

Talking to Dawn, Country Director Population Council Dr Zeba Sathar said smaller families can provide live a better life in the same income.

courtesy : dawn news



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