ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr Zafar Mirza said on Tuesday that at the current rate Pakistan’s population would double in the next 30 years, compared with an average doubling time of 60 years for other South Asian countries.

In a statement, he said the first meeting of Federal Task Force on ‘Alarming Population Growth’ in Pakistan, presided by President Arif Alvi on Monday, is a major step forward and an important landmark.

The special assistant to the prime minister said Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world with a population of 207.8 million and has grown at an intercensal growth rate of 2.4pc per annum between 1998 to 2017.

“The agenda of the meeting was to approve National Action Plan, discuss national narrative prepared on the direction of Council of Common Interests’s (CCI) decision taken in its 40th meeting held on November 19, 2018 and set up a Pakistan Population Fund,” he said.

In this context, CCI directed Ministry of National Health Services to prepare an action plan with financial modalities for operationalisation of the recommendations in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and submit for approval of the Federal Task Force.

The decision to create Pakistan Population Fund in the meeting was taken so the fund could be utilised to meet 50pc amount of additional allocations made by the provinces for procurement of contraceptive commodities over and above the budget provision for five years.

“Besides increasing Lady Health Workers (LHWs) numbers, provision of 100pc coverage of doorstep services in rural and peri-urban areas, supporting innovative approaches of federal and provincial government for reaching poor and marginalised population to reduce population growth and increase in contraceptive prevalence rate will incur 50pc additional cost,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2019