ISLAMABAD   -   Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza on Thursday said that high population growth of country is unsustainable and without family planning the goal of population stabilisation cannot be achieved.

Dr Zafar Mirza said that Pakistan is one of the most populous countries in the world with a population of 207.8 million with intercensal growth rate of 2.4 per cent per annum.

“At this rate, Pakistan’s population will double in the next 30 years as compared with an average doubling time of 60 years for other South Asian countries. The population of the country is projected to increase to 285 million by 2030,” he said. Dr Zafar Mirza said that such a high-level of population growth is unsustainable and has already eaten into the modest gains made in terms of socio-economic development.

He also added that nearly, one-fourth of the country’s population continues to live below the poverty line with the absolute numbers of poor increasing due to population growth rates. Regional and urban-rural variations in poverty are pronounced.  He said poverty has a close relation with low literacy, high fertility, high childhood and maternal mortality especially among the poorest households. Dr Zafar Mirza said without ensuring universal access to Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services, we cannot achieve the goal of population stabilisation.

“Therefore, we have planned to involve all public health facilities, all general registered private sector practitioners and hospitals and NGOs and Civil Society Organizations in Providing Family Planning / Reproductive Health Services,” he said.

Approximately 60 per cent of the country’s population faces food insecurity and nearly 50 per cent of the women and children are malnourished. Many Pakistani children are faced with long term nutritional deprivation, balanced food insecurity, poor health services, illnesses linked to hygiene, and improper feeding practices. 38 per cent of Pakistani children suffer from stunting according to the PDHS 2017-18.  Speaking on the occasion Federal Secretary Health Dr. Allah Bakhsh Malik said high maternal mortality and child mortality rates continue to pose challenges for the population and health sector.

 He said   Ministry National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, with the collaboration of its partners, has been playing an instrumental role in generating, analyzing and disseminating population data for making sound and successful development policies and program to help in reducing the morbidity and mortality among the communities particularly in women and children.