Call for greater awareness about contraception

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In order to spread awareness about contraception among young people in the country, a national seminar was held here at a local hotel on Monday in connection with the World Contraception Day.
Senator Suriya Amiruddin, the chairperson of National Trust for Population Welfare (NATPOW) was the chief guest at the seminar, which was organised by the Planning and Development Division (P&DD) Pakistan in collaboration with the USAID and UNFPA.
The session titled as “Live Your Life. Know Your Rights. Learn about Contraception” was aimed at spreading awareness among young people about their rights to access to correct and impartial information about contraception in order to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).
Senator Suriya Amiruddin noted that “With a population of 177 million, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country of the world” and that Pakistan had the highest population growth rate in the world at around 2.05 per cent. She said the populace kept growing at the same rate Pakistan was likely to become fourth most populous country of the world by 2050.
“To address this serious issue, the population policy 2010 has formulated a strategy to reduce this bubbling rate to 1.3 per cent by 2013,” she informed the audience. P&DD Director General Dr Mumtaz Esker observed that “with the current maternal mortality rate of 276 deaths per 100,000 births, infant mortality rate of 78 deaths for 1,000 births, sincere and timely efforts are essential to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.”
Linking the reproductive health with achievement of other goals, she said that “it is almost impossible to make Pakistan a land of peace and prosperity without a manageable population.”
Referring to the Pakistan Demographic Health Survey (PDHS) 2008, Dr Mumtaz said that contraceptive prevalence rate was stagnant at about 30 percent and the unmet need for contraception stood at 25 percent, which was the lowest even when compared to other Muslim countries. The speakers were of the view that Pakistan had to increase the contraceptive prevalence rate up to 60%.
“Pakistan needs to integrate birth spacing programs as it is critical for the future of Pakistan economically and socially,” stressed Katherine.
Rabbi Royan underlined that the family planning campaign in Pakistan which started in early 1960’s had lost its momentum; the drive needed to be revitalised on urgent basis. He said the political will and the private sector partnership could play a decisive role to bring into focus the issue of rapid population growth.
Dr Ali Muhammad Mir, the chief of Falah Project of Population Council, said that one of the main reasons for low contraceptive use was fear of side effects. This information was revealed during a health campaign conducted in the 15 districts of Pakistan.
P&DD chief Shahzad Ahmad Malik was of the view that the rapid population growth rate in Pakistan was resulting in shortage of educational facilities, health services, food, living space, clean water, housing units and fossil fuels which would make people suffer.
Other speakers included UNFPA representative Rabbi Royan and Katherine Crawford of USAID’s office of Public Health in Pakistan.