Pakistan has remained unsuccessful in its efforts, or lack thereof, to control its population growth. Other countries of the region and various Islamic countries have fared much better, owing to improved literacy and better implementation of policies. The National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS) hosted an event to launch a policy brief on the ‘Population Growth and Reproductive Health’, and an appeal was made to reaffirm commitment towards reducing the rate of population of Pakistan, as it is one of the least developed countries in terms of human resource development.

Punjab Population Welfare Department Director Dr Afshan Tahir said the country has made national and international commitments to reduce the fertility rate from 3.3 per woman from 3.8 by 2020, and in order to do that Punjab has purchased contraceptives and has asked private doctors to distribute them and raise awareness about them. However, in doing so, the 70 percent of the lower income strata are left out, who do not have access to private and expensive healthcare, and require access to family planning services the most.

There is still a stigma attached to the topic that needs to be addressed by including the issue in the national curriculum and reducing the barriers to the use of contraceptives. In Pakistan, family planning is an uncomfortable topic fraught with religious overtones, however recent research has indicated that poor access to family planning services, lack of counselling and technical knowledge of unmotivated providers, and insufficient availability of affordable modern methods are the major obstacles to the uptake of modern contraceptives, rather than the more frequently cited factors such as religious and social opposition to small families. The government must reaffirm its commitment to address the inadequate supply of family planning services that are affordable and accessible to all groups, it is the only way of addressing the wider problems that plague the country.