ISLAMABAD – The population in Pakistan projected for 2050 may reach as high as 395 million if no further fertility decline occurs.
Thus, there is a dire need for lowering the current rate of fertility by implementing effective family planning programmes to take maximum benefit of the “Demographic Dividend” that Pakistan is presented with. That will also avert 3 million unwanted pregnancies each year, 500 maternal and 100,000 infant deaths annually.
Says a statement issued by the Population Council Pakistan office Wednesday on the occasion of World Population Day. It urged a need for lowering the current rate of fertility to take maximum benefit of the “Demographic Dividend” that Pakistan is presented with. About 10 million women with unmet need live in Pakistan-most of them are rural, illiterate and poor.
By providing high quality family planning services the contraceptive prevalence (CPR) can rise (at 2.5% annually), as proven in recently implemented FALAH project by the Population Council. That can be rise 50 per cent by 2020 and 3 million unwanted pregnancies can be averted each year, 500 maternal and 100,000 infant deaths can be prevented annually and per capita growth will increase as a result, suggested Dr Zeba Sathar, Country Director, Population Council, in the statement.
The population size of Pakistan has more than quadrupled since 1950, reaching 180 million in 2010. Growth is expected to continue for several more decades, with the total possibly nearly doubling over the next century. This projection implies that the population will have multiplied approximately ten-fold between 1900 and 2100.
According to Dr Sathar, the population projected for 2050 may reach as high as 395 million if no further fertility decline occurs and as low as 266 million if fertility decline is very rapid. The key policy question therefore is how to further reduce growth through voluntary measures. An obvious response is to strengthen the family planning program. Women in Pakistan have high levels of unmet need for contraception and as a result many unplanned and unwanted pregnancies occur each year.
Dr Sathar explained that if no further investment in family planning is made then the fertility trajectory could easily be a half birth higher and in that case the population of Pakistan would reach 342 million in 2050. On the other hand if a strong new investment in family planning is made the future fertility trajectory could easily be a half birth below the medium variant leading to a population of just 266 million by 2050. In other words the difference between a very weak and a strong program scenario is 76 million by 2050.
She suggests a comprehensive population policy consisting of multiple approaches that address each of the components of growth including investment in high quality family planning services and reducing the demand for large families through investments in human development such as educating girls that is a powerful driver of fertility decline.