KARACHI - Presiding over a Sindh Population Taskforce meeting on Thursday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that there were two factors in population growth, natural growth through births and migration.

Sindh is facing dual issue of rapid number of births taking place as well as migration from within country and from other countries, he added.

He said the situation is resulting into shrinking resource base and has been posing serious challenges in terms of job creation, health facilities, educational facilities, food, housing and others. He added that as a matter of fact resources were limited as compared to rising numbers of population. Therefore, it is utmost important to create a balance between population size and resource base, he added.

The meeting was also attended by Provincial Minister Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho, Minister Education Syed Sardar Shah, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Chairman P&D Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to CM sajid jamal Abro, provincial secretaries of Health, Population, education, finance, Information, Shahnaz wazir Ali, CEO PPHI Wahab Soomro, Focal Person of the Sindh Task Force Dr Talib Lashari, representatives of Bill & Malinda Gates, USAID, Aga Khan Hospital, UNFPA and others.

The Taskforce on crucial issue of population growth is as a follow up of decision taken by CCI and suo moto by Supreme Court. The group consists of eminent citizens and highly experienced professionals from public sector and development partners’ fraternity.

Murad added that the taskforce would continue to build upon those achievements already made and would come up with policy guidelines and practical approaches in due course of time. He said that the recent surveys have provided profile of population dynamics and above all census conducted in 2017 has shown that our population was growing at a faster track of 2.4 percent per annum.

He added that with this growth rate, Pakistan’s population was 207.8 million while at the same growth rate population of Sindh has become 47.8 million- though we believe the population of Sindh has been under-counted in the census, he said.

Giving a presentation to Sindh Chief Minister the Focal Person Dr Talib Lashari said that Pakistan was on the top in population growth rate in Asian countries. He said that the working group chaired by health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho had taken major decisions such as functional integration of health and population departments; task sharing of lady health workers and Lady health visitors and distribution of free of cost contraceptives for relevant NGOs and appropriate health facilities for post pregnancy family planning.

It was pointed out that Sindh’s population rate was 2.4 per cent per annum and the fertility decline was too slow recorded at 3.8 in 2012-13 while 3.6 in 2017-18. Fertility rate of Punjab is 3.4; KP 4 and Balochistan 4.

The meeting decided to take effective measures to achieve 45 per cent of Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) which is 35 percent at present. Sindh has become the only province that formulated and launched its Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) in 2015 and became fully operation during 2016-17. The CIP is an overarching plan of Sindh government which aligns family planning initiatives of departments of health, population programmes like LHW, MNCH and organizations like PPHI as well as developing partners and civil society.   

The chief minister said that beside regular budget to family planning programmes, the provincial government was funding CIP at the tune of Rs2.15 billion and it could be increased on need-basis.

The meeting was told that in order to achieve 45 per cent of CRP by 2020, it is estimated that Sindh would require 986,260 new additional users of contraceptives. As of December 2018, a total of 201,498 additional users have been generated. It means the population welfare department has to generate 784,762 more new users by 2020.

Murad said that the Sindh government in population sector has worked on policies, plans and legislations such as Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013; Reproductive Health Rights Bill (recently approved by the cabinet), Population Policy of Sindh 2016 and Coasted Implemented Plan on family Planning 2015 are some of the examples, he concluded.     

Sindh Govt strengthens prosecution wing

Separately, Murad said that the provincial government is set to strengthen prosecution by inducting 294 inspectors (legal and Investigation) and 76 more would be appointed shortly. This he said on Thursday while addressing a ceremony organized at CM House to distribute offer letters among 294 inspectors, legal and Investigation, selected through SPSC recently.

The ceremony was attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IG Police Dr Kaleem Imam, Home Secretary Kazi kabir, Additional IG Karachi Dr Ameer Shaikh, Additional IG Aftab Pathan, Advoacte General Sindh and Prosecutor general Sindh.  The chief minister said that the government had decided to strengthen prosecution system in the province, therefore 370 positions of inspectors of two categories, Legal and Investigation were created and requisition was made with SPSC.

The SPSC conducted written test and interview in which 294 candidates were declared successful. The SPSC has again advertised remaining 76 positions.

The 294 inspectors who received offer letters today include 168 of Investigation and 126 of legal. They would joint investigation wing and prosecution wing separately.

The chief minister said that this new cadre of Investigation and Legal would strengthen prosecution wing of the government and the best investigators and prosecutors would be given good future which he termed as ‘upward mobility’ (promotions). He congratulated the newly recruited inspectors and hoped they would work honestly and with dedication.