World Population Day, observed worldwide annually on 11th July, is also celebrated every year in Pakistan as a ritual, however, despite this traditional celebration, we have not been able to create popular awakening or control the population outburst in our country. Failure of family planning owes itself massively to absence of a political-will on our part, ineffective modus operandi and religious misconceptions. The ultimate aim is to be able to provide; Healthcare, educated, respectable livelihood, prosperity and growth opportunities to every citizen living in the country. The optimum exploitation of our national resources can thus be ensured to achieve a strong economy and a globally competitive society.
Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) over the past half a century has been waging its efforts to upholding women's rights, their reproductive health and family planning. PMA considers this as an important part of human rights. It is with this aspect in sight, that the PMA held a press conference at Karachi Press Club recently.
The renowned speakers and PMA office bearers at the press conference included: Dr. Sher Shah Syed, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, Dr Nighat Shah, Dr Qazi M Wasiq, Shruti Dhar, Mahnaz Rehman and Rubeena Qaimkhani.
The objectives were; to impart knowledge about the bane of our burgeoning population. To achieve this, the traditions of early-age marriages must be discouraged, which leads to better education for the women and reduction in the uncontrolled and high birth-rate.
Premature Young age marriages, frequent child-birth and unplanned pregnancies and conceptions, without any gaps in-between, have serious detrimental effects on the women's health, education and wellbeing of the young population, especially the girls. Education does play a key role in the development of a healthy society.
We have the examples of countries like; Egypt, Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Sri-Lanka, who, by virtue of education and family planning, have worked wonders and achieved their social targets which brought great benefits for their social order. We can follow their examples for our own social uplift and aim to restrict our population within a manageable limit.
Pakistan must develop strategies to attain the objectives of a controlled, sustainable and prosperous population, which we can manage more effectively and easily. The country's political hierarchy must understand that Pakistan has limited resources, which are surely not enough to afford and sustain the rapidly increasing population. Every segment of society must play its role, singly and collectively, to overcome the population burden and achieve betterment for each citizen.
If every couple ensures properly planned and healthy gaps between pregnancies and child-birth, it will prove to be a great strategy for slowing down the rapid pace of population growth. With the help and support of the elected political and social representatives, we can ensure education and focus on the enhancement of skill-set and capabilities of every youngster. This will also bring significant improvements in the level of poverty, which will lead to significant economic elevation in the society.
To achieve this end, the federal and provincial governments, along with the department of population planning should provide ample funding, which is critical for the success of this programme. Unless the provincial governments come forward and support this massive social cause, the programme will never be able to generate good results.
The PMA demands that the current level of funding allocated to this cause is clearly insufficient, and we urge the government to double the budget for population planning, so as to overcome the hurdles and financial challenges faced in achieving the Millennium Development Goals stated by the UN. Every individual in society has this big responsibility to promote the cause of population planning and lead to a well managed society in Pakistan.
The President of PMA – Dr. Mirza Ali Azhar also stated that; “Since the population of Pakistan is growing at an uncontrolled pace, we are not able to plan and provide for the education or employment of our new generation. Due to the lack of opportunities and well-being, these youngsters are led towards; corruption, criminal activities and unfair means to earn their livelihood and support their families.”