The Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, while presiding over a Sindh Population Taskforce meeting, stated that there were two factors responsible for population growth: natural growth through birth and migration. “Sindh is facing the dual issue of a rapid number of births taking place as well as migration from within the country and from other countries,” he said.
He said the situation was resulting in a shrinkage of the resource base and was posing serious challenges in terms of job creation, health facilities, educational facilities, food, and housing. As a matter of fact, resources are limited in comparison to the rising population, and creating a balance between population size and resource base is important, Shah added.
The task force is a follow-up decision taken by CCI and suo moto by the Supreme Court to deal with the crucial issue of population growth. The group consists of eminent citizens and highly experienced professionals from the public sector and the development partners’ fraternity.
Shah said that the task force would continue to build upon those achievements already made and would come up with policy guidelines and practical approaches in due course of time. He said that the recent surveys have provided a profile of population dynamics and above all census conducted in 2017 has shown that our population was growing at a faster track of 2.4% per annum. He added that with this growth rate, Pakistan’s population was 207.8 million while at the same growth rate population of Sindh has become 47.8 million- though we believe the population of Sindh has been under-counted in the census, he quoted.
Giving a presentation to the Sindh Chief Minister, the Focal Person, Dr Talib Lashari stated that Pakistan had acquired the top spot when measuring 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 the functional integration of health and population departments, task sharing of lady health workers and lady health visitors. Additionally, the distribution of free of cost contraceptives for relevant NGOs and appropriate health facilities for post pregnancy family planning was also settled upon.
It was pointed out that Sindh’s population rate was 2.4 percent 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; KP 4 and Balochistan 4, respectively.
The meeting decided to take effective measures to achieve 45 percent of Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) which is 35 percent at present. Sindh has become the only province that formulated and launched its Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) in 2015 and became fully operational during 2016-17. The CIP is an overarching plan of the Sindh government which aligns family planning initiatives of departments of health, population programmes like LHW, MNCH and organizations like PPHI as well as developing partners and civil society.
The Chief Minister said that aside from the regular budget for family planning programmes, the provincial government was funding CIP at the cost of Rs2.15 billion and it could be increased on need-basis.
The meeting was told that in order to achieve 45 percent 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. This means that the population welfare department has to generate 784,762 more new users by 2020.
Shah said that the Sindh government in population sector had worked on policies, plans and legislation such as 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.