Use of contraceptives to bring down Pakistan's population growth rate to 1.1% – official

This file photo taken on Jan. 29, 2009, shows Pakistani babies laying on cradles at a welfare office of the Edhi Foundation in Karachi. (AFP)
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Updated 08 July 2020

Use of contraceptives to bring down Pakistan's population growth rate to 1.1% – official

  • More than five million babies are born in the country every year
  • Pakistan also plans to reduce maternal mortality rate from 170 to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030

KARACHI: Pakistan plans to encourage the use of contraceptives to bring down its current population growth rate from 2.4 percent to 1.1 percent by 2030, a senior official told Arab News on Tuesday.
The country has developed a National Action Plan (NAP) to implement the recommendations of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) approved in 2018 to address the challenge of population growth.
“The plan consists of various components, such as population fund, legislation, curriculum and trainings, and talking to ulema [or religious scholars],” Dr. Shahid Hanif, Director General of the Population Program Wing (PPW), said.
It also seeks to increase the present contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) of 34 percent to 50 percent by 2025 and 60 percent by 2030 to lower the existing average population growth rate of 2.4 percent to 1.5 percent by 2025 and to 1.1 percent by 2030. Officials say they hope to achieve these targets by reducing the present fertility rate of 3.6 births per woman to 2.8 births by 2025 and 2.2 births per woman by 2030.
At the current rate, the annual population grows by an average of more than five million newborn babies per year. After the growth rate is brought down to 1.1 percent, however, the average addition would be down to 2.3 million on an annual basis, keeping in view the country’s current population of 211.17 million.
The country’s federal and provincial administrations are taking steps to ensure universal access to family planning and reproductive health care services. The federal government wants to create a five-year non-lapsable special fund to reduce the population growth rate with an annual allocation of Rs 10 billion. The fund will be set up exclusively from federal resources without any cut from the provincial funds, according to the latest Economic Survey of Pakistan.
“Provinces have been given funding for more lady health workers and commodities [contraceptives] since the federal government will provide a matching grant to them,” Hanif said
One of the functions of the Population Program Wing is to ensure contraceptive commodity security, supply chain management and warehousing of contraceptives for provincial and regional population welfare departments.
A Contraceptives Commodity Security Working Group (CCSWG) has also been established to ensure the availability of birth control commodities, their timely procurement, pooled distribution, stock assessment and data availability etc
“With a manageable population, we will be able to utilize our resources more effectively for the welfare of people and our national economy. This is important since about two-third of Pakistan’s population is below the age of 20. These people need education, health and other facilities. If these individuals don’t get basic necessities, the country may witness huge social disruption in the future,” Hanif added.
However, he categorically ruled out that the country was considering “one child” policy, saying “it was never discussed nor thought about.”
The reduction of maternal mortality rate from 170 to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030 is also among the objectives of the plan.


Pakistan Medical Association, doctors fear coronavirus surge as lockdowns lifted nationwide

Updated 07 August 2020

Pakistan Medical Association, doctors fear coronavirus surge as lockdowns lifted nationwide

  • Islamabad’s PIMS hospital had less than 10 coronavirus patients before Eid Al-Adha but new patients coming in since
  • Pakistan announced on Thursday it was opening virtually all sectors closed down in March to stem the spread of COVID-19

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and infectious disease experts on Thursday warned of a possible surge in coronavirus cases due to a premature lifting of restrictions, as the government announced a day earlier that it was opening virtually all sectors closed down in March to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Pakistan shut schools and land borders nearly five months ago, decided to limit domestic and international flights and discouraged large gatherings to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus. But with infections and deaths down nearly 80 percent since their peak as per government records, the government decided on Thursday to lift the lockdowns to help the country return to normalcy.
Pakistan celebrated the Eid Al-Adha religious holiday last week. After the last major Islamic festival, of Eid Al-Fitr, in May, infections rose to their peak in Pakistan.
Dr. Nasim Akhtar, head of infectious diseases at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad, told Arab News the coronavirus ward at her hospital only had five to six patients before Eid, but new patients had once again started coming in.
“Cases registered a sharp increase after Eid Al-Fitr, and this can happen now again with the lifting of the lockdowns,” she said, adding that the government should have waited at least two more weeks to reopen restaurants and other public places.
“This is a bit early, and may worsen the situation again,” Akhtar said.
The World Health Organization has said “extreme vigilance” was needed as countries begin to exit from lockdowns, amid global concerns about a second wave of infections.
Germany earlier reported an acceleration in new coronavirus infections after it took early steps to ease its lockdown. South Korea, another country that had succeeded in limiting virus infections, saw a new outbreak.
“The next week is crucial to see if the infections soar as just one week has passed now since the Eid holidays,” Dr. Qaiser Sajjad, secretary-general of the Pakistan Medical Association, told Arab News.
Cases could also surge during the Islamic month of Muharram, which begins in late August, he said, and due to independence day celebrations on August 14. Huge crowds come out all over the world, including in Muslim-majority Pakistan, to commemorate the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).
“We think that the opening of all these things in a hurry ... probably this will create problems for us,” Sajjad said.
He said infections had risen sharply in the United States and Brazil after the nations lifted restrictions when cases initially declined. Spain reported 1,772 new coronavirus infections on Aug 6, marking the biggest jump since a national lockdown was lifted in June.
University of Health Sciences vice chancellor Javed Akram, however, called the reopening of public places a “wise decision.”
“The government cannot keep the cities and businesses under lockdown forever,” he said. “People should follow health guidelines to fight the virus.”