ISLAMABAD: Population factor was undermining national efforts for improving the standard of living of the people and was an added strain on limited and nonrenewable resources and the environment, Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh said on Thursday.
The alarmingly high population growth rate was a matter of grave concern as it was strongly impacting Pakistan’s prospective development, he said.
The minister said that the population problem should be one of the key priorities of any government if we are to improve our social indicators and catch up with neighboring countries who have progressed far more than Pakistan. There is little opposition to making this a national priority.
He made these remarks in a meeting with Population Council Country Director Dr Zeba Sathar who briefed him on the current population scenario of Pakistan. She explained that there was now a wide political and religious consensus on tackling the population issue as the narrative on family planning had shifted from family limitation to improving the health and wellbeing of mothers and their children. The focus has to be on improving the quality of life of all our citizens. This consensus now needs to be translated into meaningful actions. Director Programmes Dr Ali Mir was also present at the meeting.
Moreover the health minister added that there was a need for introducing structural reforms by the provinces that would ensure that the entire health set up of the country was geared towards delivering family planning services. He said that the religious endorsement on birth spacing which was achieved in the Population Summit in 2015 should be more widely spread so that social obstacles to family planning uptake are reduced.
He expressed the government’s unequivocal support to the endeavors being made in this direction and gave his assurance that he would ensure that all concerned departments play their due role to reduce fertility and to curb the unsustainable population growth rate.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2018.