LAHORE - Chairman of Planning and Development (P&D) Habibur Rehman Gillani has called for jointstepped up population control efforts.

 “Pakistan is facing the problem of increasing population. Child marriage is a human right violation”, he said while addressing a seminar organised by Punjab Population Innovation Fund (PPIF) in connection with World Population Day 2019 on Wednesday.

Secretary Population Welfare Department Muhammad Hassan Iqbal, Chief Executive Officer Jawad Ahmed Qureshi, Youth Ambassador PPIF Model Amna Ilyas, Executive Director Ajuka Theater Shahid Nadeem, Program Technical Specialist UNFPA Muhammad Shoaib Ahmad Shahzad, Actor Sarmad Sultan Khosat, officers and employees of Population Welfare Department and PPIF attended the seminar.

Gillani said despite remarkable progress, there were still millions of women who were not permitted or empowered to freely decide the timing and spacing of birth of children.

He said that many women had no access to facilities relating to reproductive health. “There are number of reasons behind this population issue. Education is on top of the list.  People are illiterate and are not aware about the importance of contraceptive usage and its benefits”, he said.

Hassan Iqbal said that child marriage poses serious health issue for girls. It increased risk of death during child birth, high neo-natal and infant mortality and increased vulnerability to obstetric fistula and undermines their overall future prospects of development, he said, adding, that Pakistan was one of the pioneer countries who integrated family planning services into their health services back in the 60’s.  However, Pakistan lags behind regional countries with family planning indicators characterized by stagnated level of modern contraceptive prevalence, high unmet need and poor quality of care.

Jawad Ahmed Qureshi said that “we can’t live with the current rate of population growth in the country”, he said.

“High growth rate is eating away our available resources.  The government has taken notice of the situation and planned to avert the possible catastrophe. PPIF is seriously working on the issue with the help of local and international partners”, he said.