Speakers called for curbing the population explosion for sustainable development.
They were speaking at a meeting on the economic and human development successes of Asian countries and the role of increased funding in improving family planning and population programs in the country.
Population Council Project Director Samia Ali Shah said Pakistan can achieve economic and social development with a sustained decline in population growth. “Our development prospects will remain elusive until we simultaneously focus on education; health care, including family planning; and women’s participation in the labor market. Smaller families provide greater opportunities to save more, contribute to national savings, and improve health and other development indicators for women and children. The role of the media is essential in drawing the government’s attention to these issues of national importance.
The Population Council has shared evidence on how reducing fertility contributes to economic growth by reducing the size of the economically less productive dependent population of young people under the age of 15, thereby freeing up needed government resources to meet the continued expansion of education and growth. health infrastructure needs.
The Population Council’s Senior Director of Programs, Dr Ali Mir, stressed the need to maintain a balance between population size and natural resources, as Pakistan was already one of the three countries most subject to the water stress in the world and its agricultural lands have been rapidly depleted, making it a food import country.
Speaking on the landscape of population finance in Pakistan, former World Bank economist Dr. Hanid Mukhtar said Pakistan has one of the lowest ratios (0.26%) of expenditure population to GDP among other countries in the region such as Bangladesh. Over the past few years, he said, Bangladesh’s GDP grew by 6.5% and its population grew by 1.3% compared to Pakistan’s strong population growth of 2.5% as GDP only increased by 3.5%.
“Pakistan’s trend in public spending on population services has a low and rapidly declining budget priority and even though funding for population services has increased at a moderate rate of around 6% per year over the past over the past four years, nearly two-thirds of this budget goes to paying wages and salaries and less to purchasing contraceptives, facilities and trained personnel.As a result, more and more people are forced to pay out-of-pocket health and family planning services, face critical service gaps, and delay uptake of family planning services.
He further said that 85% of productive farms in Pakistan had less than five acres of land compared to the global minimum of 7.5 acres required to produce enough produce for a family to survive. Rapid and uncontrolled population growth has eaten away at Pakistan’s national resources.
Published in L’Express Tribune, June 25e2022.