LAHORE: Rapid population growth is affecting everything, swallowing up space and agricultural land. It is time to take the issue of population seriously and in this regard there is a great need to reach people and educate them properly.
Former Punjab People’s Welfare Minister, Zakia Shahnawaz expressed these views at an event organized by the People’s Welfare Department (PWD) of Punjab as part of the Week world population 2022 at a local hotel here on Monday. World Population Week is celebrated from July 18 to 22. Zakia Shahnawaz said people urgently needed family planning services. “The demographic crisis is staring us in the face and we have to face it. Our authorities should emphasize the importance of a balanced family across all platforms for a prosperous Pakistan”.
She said farmlands are rapidly turning into housing societies. “It will lead to a food shortage. We must act now. The availability of contraceptives is important and district officers will have to pull their socks up,” she said. “All children should go to school because they are our future. People with disabilities have the hardest work to do,” she said. “Bangladesh succeeded in controlling the population, Turkey limited itself to two children, why not us?” she asked.
The Additional Secretary of the Population Welfare Department (PWD) of Punjab, Dr. Naila gave a presentation, which showed that Pakistan is the 5th most populous country in the world with 221 million people and that Punjab has 52.96% of the country’s population with 110 million people.
The Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2017-18 puts the total fertility rate at 3.4 and the contraceptive prevalence rate at 38.3% in Punjab. If the population continues to grow at the same rate of 2.1%, the population of the province by 2047 will be as large as Pakistan. She informed that the Population Welfare Department provides services in its 129 Family Health Clinics (FHCs) and 2100 Family Welfare Centers (FWCs). There are 15 counseling centers for men and 41 counseling centers for adolescents.
Disability outreach facilities are 117 mobile service units, 1332 social mobilizers and 900 community family workers. The Minister and the PWD Secretary jointly launched the People’s Welfare Department’s official YouTube channel “Behbood”, which is a platform dedicated to raising awareness of people’s welfare. PWD has a strong advocacy campaign with 7.5 lakh following on social media, Deputy Director of Information, Education and Communication PWD M Akhtar Bhatti has informed. The department gave a shield to Dr. Afshan Tahir in recognition of his excellent service to the department. Post holders of the Regional Training Institute, PWD also received certificates. Population Welfare Department Secretary Salman Ijaz, PPIF CEO Talha Hussain Faisal, UNFPA Program Technical Specialist Shoaib Shehzad, IEC Project Manager Akhtar Bhatti, representatives from Primary and Secondary Health Care Department and officials and officers from the Punjab People’s Welfare Department were also present at the ceremony.