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)
Short Url
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 begins anti-polio campaign amid steady decline in coronavirus cases

Updated 7 min 5 sec ago

Pakistan begins anti-polio campaign amid steady decline in coronavirus cases

  • 34 million children under the age of five will be vaccinated in 130 districts across the country in August
  • Pakistan's anti-polio efforts were halted in March and resumed only last month amid a decline in infections and fatalities from COVID-19

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani health officials over the weekend launched a seven-day vaccination campaign against polio in efforts to eliminate the disease amid a steady decline in coronavirus cases, which had recently overwhelmed the country’s health system.

During the week-long drive, Pakistan Polio Eradication Program aims to vaccinate 34 million children under the age of five in 130 districts. The country's efforts against polio were halted in March and resumed only last month as the COVID-19 infection started to decrease. On Saturday, Pakistan reported only nine new deaths from the virus. The country's total COVID-19 tally was 288,047, with 6,162 related deaths as of Saturday evening.

The anti-polio campaign started on Thursday in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and was launched on Saturday in Punjab and Sindh. On Monday, vaccination will begin in Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

A health worker gives a polio vaccine to a baby girl at a slum area in Lahore on Aug. 15, 2020. (AP)

“The August campaign is much bigger than the last campaign held in July, we are hoping to reach many more vulnerable children. I was encouraged with the success of our last campaign, particularly how parents cooperated with vaccinators despite the COVID-19 environment, and how our vaccinators followed the COVID-19 safety precautions they were trained on," Dr. Rana Safdar, who heads the government's polio program, said as this month's mass vaccination commenced. 

He added that similar campaigns against polio will be launched in October, November and December.

Dr. Faisal Sultan, the prime minister's special assistant on public health, expressed hope that parents "will continue to realize the importance of vaccinating their children during this campaign in August and help our nation ultimately end the threat of polio." 

"It is imperative that Pakistan continues its fight against polio with an already accessible, safe and widely used vaccine that has saved countless children from polio worldwide," he said.

A health worker gives a polio vaccine to a child at a slum area in Lahore on Aug. 15, 2020. (AP)

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries in the world where polio — a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the polio virus — is still endemic. Since January, Pakistan has reported about 100 new polio cases in various parts of the country.

Polio is a highly infectious disease mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from the disease.