Pakistan Observer

Rapid population growth constitutes threat for economy

Dr Tauseef Ahmed

Friday, July 19, 2013 - PAKISTAN’S population has increased from 37 million in 1951 to 180 million in 2013 – a five time increase in 62 years. Some experts see this population increase as ‘explosion’ rather than as a resource in Pakistan. First one is eye catching but a misnomer in national development process as humans are being treated as a valueless object and external to progress. The notion held by experts that Pakistan faced a ‘population explosion’ maintained a program with no focus on women and couples rather pursued a program driven by contraceptive methods and achievement of targets. Population was never factored in the development process by the bureaucracy, and policy makers. Unfortunately, research and facts gathered in Pakistan were neither used to evolve fresh innovative design for FP Program.

Pakistan has a very high maternal mortality ratio implying more than 15,000 mother lose their lives in the process of giving birth. It is state’s responsibility to protect the lives of mothers. If Pakistani mothers are to live a health life then provision of family planning becomes their right – right to access and to choose and right to use. In the recent years Departments of Health across provinces take family planning as a health initiative which requires promoting family planning for the health of mothers and infants. Commitment is an expression of a spirit and determination to move into action in a specific direction and in pursuit of a certain cause. Furthermore, commitment is an inner drive that pushes one to act and sustain the action to achieve a stated objective. Commitment made at London Summit on Family Planning 2012 basically is an expression that Pakistan wants to get back onto the track of demographic transition even after losing about ten years of demographic importance in which Pakistan has added a big chunk of population (about 10-15 million) to country’s population size.

In order to carry forward the commitments, Pakistan needs ‘political will’ to re-design family planning services to reach out all needy women. What we need is; Policy and political statements: The first element of political will is to have a stated policy. Pakistan has had a good family planning policy for the last several years, yet lacked open commitment from real policy makers - the politicians. Management Support: Family planning should have had a long term national plan and managed by a Commission with full authority. The existing set up too follows the same approach and is expected to show results if independent bodies manage these programs in provinces. Resource allocations and releases: Pakistan had good plans but lagged behind in making available the needed funds thus negated the essence of political commitment. Investment by Pakistan for contraceptives procurement is very much required and is the need of the day. Systems and institutional oversight: National priority is the soul and spirit of FP and needs to be on the development radar. First Lady needs to take interest in monitoring progress and participate in special events to highlight the issue. Accountability: Accountability has been completely missing at all levels. The accountability system needs to be institutionalized.

Rapid growth in Population increase has a very adverse impact on recourses and economy of Pakistan, need for food, electricity, land, security, health, education and other basic facilities has increased. Lack of quality resources helped in raising costs and hence purchasing power of people has decreased. Poverty level is increasing day by day leading Pakistan towards a bleak future. With foresight and understanding by political leadership and departmental heads, population programme can deliver desired results.

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