Pakistan can avert its population crisis with contraceptive measures, say health experts
These views were expressed at a seminar by Marie Stopes Society (MSS), a locally registered NGO with national coverage focused on serving the unmet reproductive health needs of women and men across the country, in collaboration with Population Welfare Department Punjab (PWD) at the University of Punjab on Thursday.
Every September 26, the world celebrates Contraception Day to create awareness of contraception. Myths around the use of contraceptives, society norms, lack of information and insecurity of commodities make young people vulnerable to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
In his welcome address, Col (r) Ehsanul Rehman, Technical Adviser at Marie Stopes Society, highlighted the performance of Marie Stopes, which operates across a large proportion of Pakistan and their services are available to more than 70 million people. Over the past decade, the NGO has averted 4.6 million unintended pregnancies and 6,000 maternal deaths.
Rehman said they are successfully working to inculcate the idea of having a small family among the people of Pakistan. For this purpose, the Marie Stopes teams are operating across the Punjab province.
UNFPA Technical Director Shoaib Khan, addressing the gathering, said Pakistan is among those countries where majority of children are out of school. Nearly 20,000 children are being born in Pakistan every day, Khan informed, warning that if appropriate measures were not taken immediately, we would be needing to construct two schools to educate such a huge number of children.
He, however, acknowledged that the timely steps taken by the Government of Punjab, with the help of local and international organizations, have produced significant results in controlling the childbirth rate as compared to the other provinces.
Dr Sara Zaman, who is a professor of Gender Studies, highlighted the need for introducing new courses in our curriculum, starting from the primary level, to overcome the monster of overpopulation. They (the younger generations) must know about the benefits and disadvantages of contraceptive measures, she added
Renowned gynaecologist Dr Noreen Zafar, another speaker at the event, brought the public attention towards the disturbing fact of Pakistan becoming the fifth largest population this year.
“Our resources are depleting with time while the situation on the ground is that not even one doctor is available for every 1,000 patients.
“Similarly, only half a bed is available for every 1,000 patients at Pakistani hospitals,” she added.
In Pakistan, she further informed, doctors treat 2.2 million cases of abortion every year.
Population Welfare Department's Dr Nailah Akhtar also shared her views on a rapidly growing population of the country.
Child marriage is a human rights violation and it has many effects on girls’ health. It increased the risk of death during childbirth," Nailah lamented.
Other speakers included Dr Naeem Majid, Dr Sarfraz Kazmi, Amjad Farooq, Naveed Shoukat, Pervez Ranjha, Miss Naila and Javeria Ejaz.
In the end, Dr Naila Akhtar distributed shields among the guest speakers of the seminar.
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