Saira Afzal Tarar inaugural session of the population summit today Convention Centre in Islamabad.

2015-11-05

 Islamabad 5th November, 2015:    Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar said that population situation in Pakistan is alarming. Pakistan’s current population is estimated at 191 million. The population growth rate is 1.92 percent per annum. This means a net annual addition of 3.5 million persons in the existing population. This scenario presents a daunting challenge to national efforts of economic development and poverty reduction. Addition of such a magnitude in the backdrop of low socio-economic indicators not only dilutes the results of the developmental efforts but also exerts an unbearable pressure of demand on limited resources. While she was addressing on the inaugural session of the population summit today Convention Center in Islamabad.

 

Minister said it is estimated that, population of Pakistan will reach 210 million by the year 2020. Based on present growth patterns and trends, the country will not be able to sustain the rapidly growing population, and hardly any improvement in the quality of life would be possible even under the most favorable assumptions. This trend is, therefore, a matter of deep national concern and becomes a central issue in the overall development planning perspective as well as poverty reduction strategy.

                                                                      

She said that population situation in Pakistan cannot be improved without a comprehensive program and unequivocal political commitment of all stake holders. Fortunately, our Government has clear manifesto and it has already taken a bold step of announcing Population census for 2016.   Appreciating the fact that addressing population issue in an inclusive manner in Pakistan is a tall agenda which cannot be accomplished without the commitment of all segments of society and without involvement of all stakeholders; Mr. Prime Minister. We have held consultation with the Parliamentarians, representing all major political parties in Pakistan, the religious scholars from all sects, the civil society organizations and the media and drawn consensus.  We would be pleased to reveal the consensus so achieved in the ensuing session of this Summit.  Shortly, Mr. Prime Minister, we are now drifting family planning programme towards family health and family wellbeing based on human rights, women rights, child rights, responsible husbandry, responsible parenthood and responsible citizenship.  We are cleaning the programme from mis-perceptions, be it social or be it religious.  We are reframing our policy in the light of Islamic injunctions as stipulated in the Holy Quran.  We are grateful to the religious scholars who have provided us the guidance and committed their fullest support.

 

She further said that after 18th Constitutional Amendment, the subject of Population Planning has been transferred to the Provincial Governments. The Population Welfare Programmes are now being implemented by the respective Provinces. The Provinces have framed their own Population Policies. Major activities relating to Population Welfare Programme including Advocacy, Supply of FP/ Reproductive Health Services, Technical and Managerial Training through Regional Training Institutes and Population Welfare Training Institutes, and Monitoring & Evaluation are carried out by the Provincial Population Welfare Departments. Yes Federal government continuing to provide financial support to Provincial Population programs at the level it was providing at the time of devolution.

 

The Minister said that the role of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination is confined to National Policy Framework, Research & Advocacy, Inter-Provincial Coordination and International Interface. The fulfillment of international commitments viz-a-viz MDGs, SDGs, FP2020 and other International agreements like ICPD Programme of Action made at UN Fora remains the responsibility of the Government. Devolution of population welfare program to the provinces is a challenge as well as an opportunity.  There is every reason to believe that decentralization is the best course of action for attaining good governance. The Federal Government through a very strong coordination mechanism will extend all its support to the provinces to meet the emerging challenges in the execution of Population Welfare Programme.

 

She said that there is now a considerable level of understanding of the importance and urgency of an accelerated family planning programmes and its link with important development goals, in the four major provinces. It is also promising to see that our development partners are bringing in new approaches to improve the performance in FP/RH sector in Pakistan, However, sustainability of these initiatives remains uncertain even to the experts involved. No two opinions that these initiatives will bring improvement; their results could be better and remain far more effective in the long term if these initiatives are institutionalized into government system.