The Consultative Workshop on Voluntary National Survey and International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Sindh recently brought together key stakeholders to assess the progress made in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action at the provincial level. This gathering served as a crucial platform for identifying and addressing the pressing challenges arising from population growth in Sindh. With the province projected to reach a staggering population of 95.7 million by 2050, it is evident that immediate action is required to ensure sustainable development and effective population management strategies.
The ICPD Progress Review Consultation brought together a broad spectrum of stakeholders from various sectors, encompassing government officials, civil society organizations, academia, and development partners. Notable participants included representatives from the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives (MoPD&SI), UNFPA, Planning and Development Department, Population Welfare Department, and Health Department of the Government of Sindh.
The workshop successfully shed light on the multifaceted challenges posed by the province’s population growth. Sindh’s burgeoning population will exert increasing pressure on vital resources, exacerbating the existing shortage of basic necessities. The alarming rise in population has prompted stakeholders to unite and seek ways to limit population growth while ensuring equitable access to essential services.
One critical concern highlighted during the workshop was the high number of maternal deaths in Sindh due to insufficient healthcare coverage. It is imperative for the government to invest in the health sector and expand the reach of government hospitals in rural areas, where the shortage of healthcare facilities is particularly acute. While urban areas are relatively well-served by hospitals and clinics, rural regions suffer from limited access, resulting in a high number of maternal deaths.
Another significant issue discussed was the substantial percentage of girls and boys in Sindh being deprived of schooling. To address this challenge, the government should prioritise the development of online education infrastructure to reach children in remote areas. Additionally, efficient transportation systems must be established to enable regular school attendance for children residing far from educational institutions. Moreover, awareness campaigns emphasising the importance of education should be conducted in rural communities. Constructing schools in nearby areas will also facilitate access for rural populations, reducing the existing educational disparities.
The workshop acknowledged the impressive strides achieved in enhancing reproductive health, fostering gender equality, and empowering women and girls in the region of Sindh. Attendees actively participated in productive deliberations encompassing a range of subjects, such as the empowerment of women and youth, population dynamics and sustainable development, education, food security, climate change, urbanization and internal migration.
Effectively addressing the challenges posed by population growth requires a sustained multi-sectoral approach with strong political will and effective governance. A comprehensive population policy should be established as a national priority, integrating it into Pakistan’s sustainable development framework. The government must take the lead in coordinating efforts across various sectors and engage all stakeholders to implement sustainable solutions.
To ensure successful population management, sufficient public funds must be allocated to support sustainable family planning programmes. This investment is essential to effectively implement population management strategies and safeguard the well-being of Sindh’s population.
The workshop served as a significant milestone in addressing the population growth challenges faced by Sindh. It underscored the urgent need for immediate action and highlighted the importance of investing in healthcare, education, and sustainable development. By harnessing the collective efforts of all stakeholders, Sindh can effectively manage its population dynamics and pave the way for a prosperous and sustainable future. The well-being of the people of Sindh for generations to come relies on the concerted commitment and collaborative endeavors of all stakeholders involved.