IT really goes to the credit of President Dr Arif Alvi for consistently highlighting the key issues faced by the country as well as providing solution to them. It is because of him as well as First Lady Samina Alvi, there is today greater awareness amongst masses about the breast cancer as well as the rights of differently abled persons.
At present, one of the most pressing issues confronting the country is that of its ever growing population. Talking to Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr Luay Shabaneh, President Arif Alvi very rightly called for bringing attitudinal change in society towards family planning to advance reproductive health and effectively manage the growing population in Pakistan. The question is how this change in attitude can be brought. We have before us the successful example of Bangladesh which used communications and awareness campaign to change people’s attitudes to family size and to increase the use of contraceptives amongst married women. As a result of this, according to the World Bank data, the annual population growth of the country has declined from 2.77 percent in 1961 to 1.03 percent in 2020. The success of Bangladesh’s population control strategy is reflected in the fact that the number of people using contraceptives has gone up from 8 percent in 1975 to about sixty five to seventy percent now.
It is only through better education and awareness that we can also achieve the same results otherwise the consequences can be very dire and the fallouts would be food scarcity, climate change, insufficient energy and resources and so on. Governmental apathy and flawed population planning, misinterpretation of religion and unfounded customs, poverty and illiteracy, low contraception prevalence and birth control awareness, the custom of child marriage and preference for the son have only contributed to the population explosion in our country.
Apart from putting greater emphasis on education, especially those of girls, it has become important to launch a mass awareness campaign at the gross roots level using different platforms in order to educate the people about the benefits of a small family. Results will not come overnight but through a sustained campaign, a change will definitely come in the society. Availability of contraceptives at reasonable prices should also be ensured to achieve the desired results.