“Pakistan’s alarming population rate poses high socio-economic risks”

Islamabad: President Dr. Arif Alvi said on Friday that Pakistan’s rapid population growth had implications for the country’s socio-economic development and called for a broad nationwide campaign to raise awareness.

In an interaction with senior journalists here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, he highlighted the key role of the media in addressing population and health issues and challenges.

The meeting was held in line with the Council for Common Interests (CCI) recommendations for engagement with the media to encourage them to spread the message on population management, as the country faces a population explosion of 285 million by 2030.

President Alvi emphasized that the media could play an important role in shaping public opinion and behavior regarding family planning.

He mentioned that focusing on the population issue in TV talk shows and drama soaps could also prove effective in getting the message out to the public.

The President also stressed the need for political will with an active contribution from parliamentarians to lead a mass advocacy movement on population management.

He also advised prominently highlighting the parliamentary caucus discussion of population growth for public consumption.

The President also urged the media to broadcast public service messages in addition to using their platforms to raise awareness of the country’s alarming population growth rate.

He acknowledged the positive role of ulema in raising awareness about family planning and mentioned his initiative of Friday sermons by scholars using the platform of the Presidency Mosque to highlight various social issues.

He added that Islam insists that mothers breastfeed their children for two years, which could help achieve adequate birth spacing and overcome the problem of stunting and malnutrition.

The Prime Minister’s special assistant for health, Dr Faisal Sultan, said unplanned population growth could become a national security issue, where the future generation grows up in the absence of education and sanitation facilities appropriate.

He said the government was sensitizing the masses at all levels involving political leaders, academics, executive, ulema, civil society and youth.

It has been pointed out that there have been 4 million unintended pregnancies in Pakistan due to lack of guidance and unavailability of contraceptives.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Co-ordination, Nausheen Hamid, highlighted the role of the Parliamentary Caucus in providing recommendations regarding the development of population management policies.

During the town hall meeting, the President exchanged views with journalists regarding mass awareness through media platforms.