- Govt to reactivate Population Commission; to set up special fund with Rs5bn allocation
ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Minister for National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh while expressing serious concerns over the rapid population growth in Pakistan reiterated the government’s commitment to work in unison to increase awareness on population issues including the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health, and human rights.
While appreciating the efforts of the provincial governments, he reaffirmed that the government shall fulfill its international commitments. Addressing at a function on the World Population Day, he stressed that Pakistan cannot reap up the benefits of population dividend and capitalize upon the youth bulge without an extraordinary action.
He indicated that the Pakistan Commission on Population was being reactivated with revised composition and terms of reference as contained in the National Population Policy 2017. He also mentioned that the federal government was in the process of setting up a special fund for population initiatives with an allocation of five billion rupees.
He recommended that a dialogue be initiated on developing national consensus on freezing the population factor on the basis of Census 2017, in the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award and in determining political constituencies, in the federal and the provincial governments. Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world with 208 million people and a population growth rate of 2.4% per year.
The rising population numbers are likely to outstrip developmental gains, and continue to adversely affect the economy, environment, health, education and quality of the lives of all citizens. The theme for this year’s World Population Day ‘family planning as a human right’ is apt for Pakistan at this crucial moment in time. The theme is in line with the 50th anniversary of the 1968 international conference on human rights, where family planning was, globally affirmed to be a human right.
This right-based approach strives to empower every couple to their entitlement to decide on the size of their family, ensuring that every pregnancy is wanted. Echoing this message, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, together with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), jointly organised a national event to commemorate the World Population Day and the 50th anniversary since family planning was declared a human right.
Welcoming the guests, Federal Secretary Zahid Saeed said that Pakistan’s population was growing at an alarming rate of 2.4% per annum. “Population is a cross-cutting issue and it has its implications on all spheres of life,” he said and stressed that all implementing partners and stakeholders would have to make concerted efforts for population stabilization in Pakistan.
The provincial ministers from Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and a senior government official from Balochistan reflected the resolve of their respective governments to implement family planning programmes in their provinces through a right-based approach.
Delivering message of UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem, Dr Hassan Mohtasami said that UNFPA was fully committed to continuing to support countries’ efforts to uphold the right of individuals, especially women, to plan a family. Other dignitaries that spoke at the event included Dr Saniya Nisthar, Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson and DFID-Pakistan Deputy Director Kemi Williams.
A pledge was signed by the invitees that reaffirmed the collective efforts of the government, and its stakeholders towards the FP2020 commitment of ensuring all citizens the entitled hhigh-qualityfamily planning information and services.