Jul 11, 2011

11th of July, the World populaion day pakistan,

Population control must for peace and prosperity


Health experts believe that without a manageable population, it is almost impossible to make Pakistan a land of peace and prosperity.

Rapid population growth rate in Pakistan is resulting in shortage of educational facilities, health services, food, living space, arable land, clean water, housing units and fossil fuels putting pressure on transportation, electricity, sewage, sanitation, and increase in unemployment, land fragmentation, import of food, environmental degradation, overcrowding and congestion in households, squatter settlements, poverty, unrest, crimes, drug addiction, urbanisation, dependency rates and population density.

The population of Pakistan was 33 million in 1950 and its rank was 14th in the world. Today, it has reached around 177 million making Pakistan 6th most populous country of the world, after China, India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil while surpassed Japan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, South Korea and Russia whereas in terms of land area, it is 34th and shares 0.6% of the world area.

Pakistan has the highest population growth rate in the world at around 2.05%. Each family in Pakistan on average has 3.5 children. If the population of the country continues to grow with the same rate (2.05%), it is likely to double in the next 35 years, making Pakistan 3rd most populous country of the world; whereas land area will remain the same rather will be reduced due to residential plans.

Head of Community Medicine at CMH Lahore Medical College Professor Dr Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry expressed this while talking to ‘The News’ in connection with World Population Day which is being observed today (on July 11) around the globe.

This year the theme of World Population Day is, “Seven billion people counting each other.” Seven messages have been developed in the world at 7 billion campaign and these focus on young people, women and girls, poverty reduction, reproductive health, environment, ageing populations and urbanisation, said Dr Ashraf.

He added that the theme calls for action and an opportunity to engage with people about what it means to live in a world of 7 billion and what they can do that everyone achieves their present and future potentials.

He said that Population Growth Rate (PGR) of Pakistan is highest and its Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (30%) is lowest even when compared to other Muslim countries like Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iran, and Malaysia which is really a matter of shame for us. “Each year 3.53 million souls are being added to the country’s population. Higher population growth rate means more people to feed, more families to house, more children to educate, and more people looking for gainful employment.”

Dr Ashraf added that major factors responsible for high PGR in Pakistan are high fertility, declining mortality, early marriages, early puberty, son preference, high Infant Mortality (63.3 per 1000 live births), poverty (children are considered to be social and economic security), illiteracy, religious constraints, beliefs, customs and traditions etc. Children are considered to be the gift of God.

Moreover, the entire population campaign is being defeated by our uneducated labour class and the rural population, which fall into the trap preached by the religious zealots, who claim that family planning is a sin and the children are the gifts of God, said Dr Ashraf while responding to a query.

The declining mortality trends coupled with high fertility rates produce more dependent population. The rapid growth of population brings about high densities of population. Dr Ashraf said that our population density has increased to 222 per square kilometre from 42.5 persons in 1951. Our unemployment rate (5.6%) is also very high. Our per capita income is among the lowest (US $ 1254) of the world. Our 42% population earns only $400 per capita, he said.

There is one doctor for 1,222 persons and one hospital bed for 1,701 people. Our Maternal Mortality Rate (276 per hundred thousand) and Infant mortality Rate (63.3 per 1000 live births) are still one of the highest in the world.

Talking on the remedies, Dr Ashraf said that government should control population through legislation like China. Age of the marriage should be raised to 25 in case of males and 23 in case of females. ‘Ulemas’ should be recruited as family planning mobilisers to remove misconception of the people about family planning, he said.

He opines that family planning is not against the Islamic spirit as it is being practiced in many Muslim countries and many religious scholars have supported it. “In order to create awareness among the masses about the benefits of small family and negative impact of early marriage, all channels of communication, including electronic and print media, outdoor publicity and interpersonal communication should be utilised.”

He said that the number game is no more number game for Pakistan; it is life and death game now. Zero Population Growth (ZPG) must be achieved, if the human species is to survive. In order to achieve the ZPG, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) would need to drop from present 3.5 children per woman average to two-child average which is the Replacement Level Fertility.

“For this we will have to increase the contraceptive prevalence rate up to 60%. Perhaps our leaders, the government and the opposition, can take some time off from personal attacks on each other and devote some of their attention to this issue,” concluded Dr Ashraf.

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