John Bongaarts, Population Council’s Vice-President and distinguished scholar who is on a visit to Pakistan nowadays, shared the information with media persons in a meeting.
He said about 3 million pregnancies occur in Pakistan annually that are not planned and if women are provided with the birth spacing facilities, women, children and communities will be better off. The successive Pakistani governments have not shown commitments and not invested in the family planning thus birth spacing facilities do not reach to the communities despite that there is a need for that, he added. According to him currently the population of Pakistan is 180 million that is expected to increase upto 300 million by 2050 that means the government will need to invest more on education, health, food and energy etc. that seems impossible.
Thus, high unemployment, and inequality among rapidly growing young populations will contribute to the spread of violence and civil strife.
He maintained that family planning programs are highly cost-effective, have demonstrable poverty-reducing effects, and provide important health and human rights benefits to those who would otherwise have trouble achieving them. And research has proven that high-quality voluntary family planning programs advance economies and improve health.
‘By reducing birth rate, family planning programmes can create a demographic dividend that boosts economic growth, allows families and communities to invest more in providing quality education and health and increase spending on each family member’.
He informed Bangladesh has a lower birthrate and lower abortion rate as compared to Pakistan and is widely recognized as a world leader in family planning. Pakistan is the 6th most populous country in the world with 2.05 growth rate.
Pakistan’s birth rate is 4 per 100 million women while Bangladesh’s birth rate stands at 2 per 100 million women. In Pakistan contraceptive prevalence is 30 percent while in Bangladesh remains 61 percent.
Bongaarts, whose research on fertility issues has helped developing countries construct population policy options, will be briefing Finance Minister Abdul Hafeeaz Sheikh Thursday (today) to convince the government in formulation of pro family planning policies in future.
According to him globally, funding for such programs has not kept pace with the need.
As a result, many developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, continue to face rapid population growth that jeopardizes social and economic development. An international conference is going to be held in July wherein 100 delegates of different countries are expected to participate to make commitments for such programmes and a Pakistani delegation will also be participating in the international event, he added.