Population and pandemic by Tribune Editorial

Pakistan needs to adopt a serious integrated approach meant to cut down on the population growth rate

The world today has a total of 7.8 billion inhabitants, and Asia is its most populous region with 4.6 billion souls, according to the 2020 World Population Data Sheet released by the US Population Reference Bureau, Washington. The Asian population is projected to increase by 15% till 2050 to reach 5.3 billion. The data sheet places South Asia among the fastest growing regions in the world and marks Afghanistan as having the highest annual fertility rate of 4.5% per couple, followed by Pakistan at 3.6%. In comparison, all other countries in the region have a lower rate — China 1.5%, India 2.2% and Bangladesh 2.3%.

Increasing at a fertility rate of 3.6%, Pakistan’s population — estimated at 220.9 million today — would double in 19.4 years, evaluates the report by the US Population Reference Bureau as it focuses on the various population-related aspects and their correlation with the reigning coronavirus pandemic. The report warns that “population density in urban areas, household size, and population aging contribute to our vulnerability to pandemics”. As the report says that the mentioned factors affect our resilience in the face of future crises, it carries lessons for Pakistan — a developing country already faced with serious public health security threats.

Pakistan needs to adopt a serious integrated approach meant to cut down on the population growth rate. Apart from poverty and illiteracy, major factors that are responsible for high population growth in the country include: high unmet need of family planning, low contraceptive prevalence rate, lack of women empowerment, early marriages, preference for son, lack of recreational activities, religious beliefs and traditional practices. The governments over the years have formulated policies aimed at controlling population growth, but none of them has succeeded in translating these polices into practice.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2020.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.