Pakistan’s population is growing by 2.05 per cent a year and has reached the 180 million mark, making it the sixth most populous country in the world.—AP (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: A third of Pakistanis have no access to birth control, a senior UN official said on Wednesday, as he urged the country to allocate more resources to family planning to slow rapid population growth.

Pakistan’s population is growing by 2.05 per cent a year and has reached the 180 million mark, making it the sixth most populous country in the world, Rabbi Royan, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) chief in Pakistan said.

Many couples who want to have fewer children have no access to contraceptives or family planning advice, he said, with the unmet need for birth control running at 33 per cent.

“It is important that provincial and federal authorities demonstrate their full commitment through sustained and prioritised allocation of additional resources to family planning services and commodities,” Royan said.

The issue of family planning was “extremely relevant” to Pakistan as the fertility rate remains very high as every mother on average gives birth to four children, he added.

This year’s global report from UNFPA focuses on the theme: “By Choice, Not by Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development.”

“The report shows clearly that family planning delivers immeasurable rewards to women, families, and communities around the world,” said Royan.

Contraceptive prevalence has increased globally by just 0.1 per cent per year over the last few years, according to the report.

Pakistan had its last head count in 1998, which put the population at 132 million, and the government is working on a new population and housing census, according to the Population Census Organization website.

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