Life in balance – importance of family planning

The Nation  |  Dec 07, 2022

Nazakat HussaiN          -           The global population has been steadily increasing with each new billion coming faster than the previous and it continues to grow exponentially. The total world population has leapt from 1 billion in the 1800s to over 8 billion in 2022. Today, global human population growth amounts to around 83 million annually or 1.1% per year. Nearly all this growth is concentrated in resource-stricken developing nations which are least geared to support rapid population growth and whose socioeconomic development is most likely to be hindered by high fertility. According to projections, 86% of the world’s population will be living in developing countries by 2050 which imposes costly burdens on these nations. High fertility impedes opportunities for economic development, increases health risks for women and children, and erodes the quality of life by reducing access to education, nutrition, employment, and scarce resources such as potable water. The gravity of these consequences is felt most clearly in times of disaster. The recent floods in Pakistan are a stark reminder of the sheer inadequacy of resources and their impact on human development. Heavy monsoon rains have severely affected over 33 million people and destroyed homes, farms and critical infrastructure including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and public health facilities. According to UNICEF estimates, almost 10 million children need immediate, lifesaving support, and are at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition. Furthermore, at least 650,000 pregnant women, of whom 73,000 are expected to deliver in the coming months are in dire need of maternal health services, according to UNFPA. The massive hit to Pakistan’s economy, infrastructure, food security, health, education and environment will impact its population for years to come. In these circumstances, the importance of family planning programmes becomes more critical than ever. In order to be sustainable, we must create a balance between our resources and our population to ensure the well-being of every citizen – even during disasters – and safeguard the future of the country. Research conducted suggests that 10 to 40 per cent of women want to space or limit childbearing but are not using contraception. This indicates a continuing, unmet need for contraception, due to several socio-economic barriers. Historically, voluntary family planning programmes have been very effective in filling this demand and helping moderate high fertility rates. In Pakistan, social behaviour change interventions like Khairkwah are addressing and overcoming the barriers to the uptake of contraceptives, particularly in underserved areas. These interventions target wide-ranging issues that hinder the adoption of family planning practices, ranging from cultural norms to accessibility and medical assistance. Overpopulation is a cross-sectoral issue and requires collective action. It is high time we shed the age-old stigma around family planning and take decisions based on modern realities. Our actions today determine the future of coming generations and the world they inherit from us. –The author is a free lancing writer on social issues

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