Pakistan is a resource-stretched country with a runaway population. According to the 2016 national census, the country’s population is 208 million and increasing at a high rate of 2.4 per cent and stands at sixth position globally. Unless effective steps are taken to stop the trend, the country’s population could exceed 300 million by 2050. The current rate of population growth shows lack of proper interest on the part of the government, physicians, and leaders of public opinion. The Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey of 2018 has found the contraceptive use to have been stagnant over the past five years. In fact, from 35 per cent in 2012, it dipped to 34.2 per cent in 2017. This is worrisome given Pakistan’s commitment at the 2012 London Population Summit that it would bring it up to 50 per cent by 2020. Senior gynaecologists and obstetricians say even their junior physicians do not have enough understanding of modern contraceptive methods, so how can they be expected to give proper advice to married couples on how to limit their family size. There are several social and cultural issues involved that are constraining the country’s efforts to control the population growth.
The world population stood at 7.7 billion as of April 2019. Most developing countries are confronting the problem of keeping their population within manageable limits. In the European Union, the birth rate is 1.9 live births per woman per year. In Pakistan, it stands at 3.46 live births per woman per year. Historically, families in countries of Asia have preferred to have a large number of children. In the 19th century, an Indian king had 22 sons and 32 daughters from several wives. The wife of King Louis XIVth of France gave birth to six children. Only one survived into adulthood. The present trend needs to be reversed because there has to be a balance between the world’s resources and the population that it can support.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2019.