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February 9, 2019

Sindh’s population increasing due to high birth rate, internal and external migrations: CM


February 9, 2019

Sindh’s resource base is shrinking and posing serious challenges in terms of job creation, health and education facilities, food, housing and other facilities due to an unprecedented increase in the population, not only due to a growing number of births but also because of internal and external migration.

This was stated by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while presiding over a meeting of the Sindh Population Task Force meeting here on Thursday.

“As a matter of fact, resources in Sindh are limited as compared to the rising numbers of population. Therefore, it is extremely important to create a balance between the population size and the resource base,” he told the task force meeting.

Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho, Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Chairman P&D Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro, the secretaries of health, population, education, finance and information, Shahnaz wazir Ali, CEO PPHI Wahab Soomro, Dr Talib Lashari, representatives of Bill & Malinda Gates, USAID, Aga Khan Hospital, UNFPA and others were present on the occasion.

The taskforce on the crucial issue of population growth is a follow-up of decision taken by the CCI and suo moto notice taken by the Supreme Court. The group consists of eminent citizens and highly experienced professionals from the public sector and development partners’ fraternity.

Chief Minister Shah maintained that the taskforce would continue to build upon those achievements already made and would come up with policy guidelines and practical approaches in due course of time.

Recent surveys have provided a profile of population dynamics and above all the census conducted in 2017 has shown that our population is growing at a faster rate of 2.4 per cent per annum, he said, adding that with this growth rate, Pakistan’s population is 207.8 million while at the same growth rate the population of Sindh has become 47.8 million though we believe the population of Sindh has been under-counted in the census.

Giving a presentation to the chief minister, Focal Person Dr Talib Lashari said that Pakistan was on the top in the population growth rate in Asian countries. He said that the working group chaired by Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho had taken major decisions such as functional integration of health and population departments, task sharing of lady health workers and lady health visitors, distribution free of cost of contraceptives to relevant NGOS and appropriate health facilities for post-pregnancy family planning.

It was pointed out that Sindh’s population rate was 2.4 per cent per annum and the fertility decline was too slow recorded at 3.8 in 2012-13, while 3.6 in 2017-18. The fertility rate of Punjab is 3.4, in KP 4 per cent and in Balochistan 4 per cent.

The meeting decided to take effective measures to achieve 45 per cent of Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) which is 35 per cent at present. Sindh has become the only province that formulated and launched its Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) in 2015 and became fully operation during 2016-17. The CIP is an overarching plan of the Sindh government which aligns family planning initiatives of the departments of health, population programmes like LHW, MNCH and organisations like PPHI as well as developing partners and civil society.

The chief minister said that besides giving a regular budget to family planning programmes, the provincial government was funding CIP at the tune of Rs2.15 billion and it could be increased on a need basis.

The meeting was told that in order to achieve 45 per cent of CRP by 2020, it is estimated that Sindh would require 986,260 new additional users of contraceptives. As of December 2018, a total of 201,498 additional users have been generated. It means the population welfare department has to generate 784,762 more new users by 2020.

Shah said that the government in the population sector had worked on policies, plans and legislations such as the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013, Reproductive Health Rights Bill (recently approved by the cabinet), Population Policy of Sindh 2016 and Coasted Implemented Plan on family Planning 2015 are some of the examples.

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