ISLAMABAD - Expressing concern over the constant population growth and the meagre resources available in Pakistan, the government is exercising its all options to sensitize general public on negative implications of population growth not only on human health especially of mother and child but also on economic as well as social life of people.

According to the latest statistics, Pakistan is the 5th most populous country in the world, despite only being the 33rd largest in size, while its huge population is constantly eating up national resources threatening the national life especially provision of sufficient healthcare as well as quality education, job opportunities, climate change, depleting water sources and even our national security.

On the occasion of the World Population Day marked on July 11 across the world including Pakistan, President Dr Arif Alvi in his message referred to the national meagre resources and called for raising awareness among the masses about the importance of containing population growth rate as it would lead to ensuring better healthcare, stable economy as well as sustainable social life.

He said that the World Population Day focuses attention on global demographic issues including poverty, gender equality, maternal health, hunger, economy, climate change and human rights. The President cautioned that if we don’t make a serious change, this population is likely to double in next 30 years.

The data shows that the maternal mortality ratio in Pakistan stands at 186 deaths per 100,000 live births. The need for family planning is staggeringly high in Pakistan. The grassroots challenges are present such as misperceptions, lack of trained health staff, communication gap between the partners, and others. To make a real difference in this area and normalise family planning amongst the masses, we need to design and execute behaviour change campaigns through use of media tools that reach out to everyone across the board, including rural and most marginalised communities.

Other stakeholders including Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel, District Medical Officer, Islamabad, Dr Zaeem Zia, MNA Shazia Fatima Khuwaja, Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation Shazia Marri, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Health Taimur Khan Jhagra and Minister for Human Rights Riaz Hussain Pirzada are also concerned in their respective official capacities to maintain a balance between the national population growth and the national resources for better health as well as economic wellbeing of masses.

In his remarks, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said that currently, over 60 percent of Pakistan’s population is below the age 30. These people could be a great resource to the country which is facing a crisis only worsened by the rapid rate of population growth.

According to him, ensuring better use of national resources and quality healthcare is our joint responsibility on the part of public as well as private sectors for sustainable development.

As part of the efforts to raise awareness about the importance of adopting family planning measures, KhairKhwah (campaign name means well-wisher) launched an advocacy campaign on the World Population Day with testimonial videos of government officials. These video testimonials directly speak out to the population of Pakistan on the link between overpopulation and problems facing Pakistan such as economic crisis, unemployment, healthcare etc and encourage people to adopt family planning measures. At the same time, this campaign aims to mobilise the government officials and engage them to make commitments to address this growing issue.