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PR No.59 SAPM on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza Calls for Urgent Efforts to Address Population Issue Islamabad: July 11, 2019

Addressing National Seminar to mark World Population Day call for urgent efforts at all levels to address the issue of population in the country. There is highest level of political commitment to the cause with the Prime Minister heading the Federal Task Force on Population with all Provincial Chief Ministers as member. The recommendations of Council of Common Interests on alarming population growth must be implemented both the federal and provincial Governments if we are to move forward on addressing the population issue effectively. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza said Pakistan is one of the most populous countries in the world with a population of 207.8 Million with intercensal growth rate of 2.4% per annum. At this rate Pakistan’s population will double in the next 30 years, compared with an average doubling time of 60 years for other South Asian countries. The population of the country is projected to increase to 285 million by 2030. He was addressing on the World Population Day. Dr. Zafar Mirza said that such a high level of population growth is unsustainable and has already eaten into the modest gains made in terms of socio-economic development. Nearly, one-fourth of the country’s population continues to live below the poverty line with the absolute numbers of poor increasing due to population growth rates. Regional and urban-rural variations in poverty are pronounced. Poverty has a close relation with low literacy, high fertility, high childhood and maternal mortality especially among the poorest households. Approximately 60% of the country’s population faces food insecurity and nearly 50% of the women and children are malnourished. Many Pakistani children are faced with long term nutritional deprivation, balanced food insecurity, poor health services, illnesses linked to hygiene, and improper feeding practices. 38 % of Pakistani children suffer from stunting according to the PDHS 2017-18. Dr. Zafar Mirza said without ensuring universal access to Family Planning & Reproductive Health Services, we cannot achieve the goal of population stabilization. Therefore, we have planned to involve all public health facilities, all general registered private sector practitioners and hospitals and NGOs and Civil Society Organizations in Providing Family Planning / Reproductive Health Services. For promoting small family norms and creating more demand for FP services, we are launching a mass movement for behavioral change and building a national narrative for population issue. For contraceptives commodity security we will incentivize local production of contraceptives and strengthen supply chain management system with the coordination of provincial governments. Speaking on the occasion Federal Secretary Health Dr. Allah Bakhsh Malik said High maternal mortality and child mortality rates continue to pose challenges for the population and health sector. He said Ministry National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, with the collaboration of its partners, has been playing an instrumental role in generating, analyzing and disseminating population data for making sound and successful development policies and program to help in reducing the morbidity and mortality among the communities particularly in women and children. The National Seminar was also addressed by UNFPA Country Representative Ms. Lina Mousa and DFID Deputy Head in Pakistan Ms. Kemi Williams. Later, a panel discussion on progress in addressing population issue was moderated by Javed Jabbar with panelists including Former Ministers Attiya Inayatullah, Shehnaz Wazir Ali, former Federal Secretary Muzaffar Mehmood Qureshi and Dr. Nizamuddin.

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