Planning time

September 7, 2014

According to the World Bank, as of 2012 Pakistan’s population totaled 179.2 million people

Planning time

Planning and implementing strategies to contain population is a complex issue in Pakistan. Even though there is considerable acceptance for family planning in our society, it has still been hampered by a combination of factors, such as religious and traditional beliefs, poor government policies, lack of services, and misconceptions, etc.

Most married women in Pakistan are under pressure to produce a child. The religious and social pressures eventually result in increase in population.

For instance, a large number of men and women believe the use of artificial contraceptives for family planning is against nature and also against religious teachings.

To change that, more than anything else, the country needs the political will to re-design family planning services to reach out to women from all sections of society.

The country’s family planning programmes have not made the desired or calculated impact due to either neglect or constant policy changes as a result of political uncertainty.

As Pakistan’s Family Planning programme was not implemented with diligence, it faced limited resource allocations and delayed results.

In this backdrop, unavailability of the services near people’s homes, in addition to poor and inadequate services by the medical staff proved to be a bad start.

Thus, health and population experts have been calling for expanding access to family planning and reproductive healthcare. They argue that it has to be a widespread intervention in the healthcare system of Pakistan to have a positive impact. Or else, population explosion is a big threat for Pakistan in many ways.

The cost of neglecting population control methods is huge. According to one estimate, about 40-60 women die every day in Pakistan due to pregnancy related complications. Expansion in family planning services can reduce up to 30 per cent of maternal deaths and 10 per cent of child deaths.

Pakistan has to make sincere efforts to achieve the commitments it made in the London Summit 2012 to increase the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) to 55 per cent by the year 2020. According to the World Bank, as of 2012 Pakistan’s population totaled 179.2 million people.

"Though Pakistan was one of the first Asian countries to begin a family planning programme with some help from international donors, fertility has declined slower than in neighbouring countries," say Karen Hardee and Elizabeth Leahy in Population, Fertility and Family Planning in Pakistan: A Program in Stagnation, 2007. "In 2007, Pakistan had increased in world population ranking to 6th, with over 164 million people and the United Nations (UN) has projected that in 2050 it will move into 5th place with around 292 million people," they add.

Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012, released in October 2013, shows that the overall contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) had increased to 35.4 per cent of which approximately 25 per cent was from modern methods. It shows an overall increase in CPR.

This suggests, the survey says, that there are 8.8 million users of a family planning method, 5.5 million users of modern methods and 3.65 million women who avail family planning services in any given year. Thus, only around 14 per cent of all married women of reproductive age access family planning services in a given year.

Like in Pakistan, low female literacy levels and lack of widespread availability of birth-control methods hampered the use of contraception in India. But successive governments’ resolve seem to have made the difference.

According to World Population Review, by the year 2050, there will be close to 9 billion people populating the planet. Out of those 9 billion, half of the world’s population will reside in countries comprising China, the US, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, the Congo, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Planning time