ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Abdul Qadir Patel on Monday deplored that some elements were trying to create the impression that the concepts of family planning and vaccination — against polio and Covid-19 — are not compatible with religion.
Terming it “very dangerous behaviour”, he said that on the issue of population welfare, the government had the support of religious scholars from all sects.
Addressing a seminar held in connection with World Population Day, he said all stakeholders were working together to bring the population under control.
He said that polio workers, who get around Rs1,000 per day to vaccinate children and save them from a lifetime of disability, were killed and to date around 60 workers have laid down their lives in the line of duty.
Sharing from his personal experiences, Mr Patel said that while the Covid-19 vaccine was being administered freely, many people were shy to get vaccinated.
“In my neighbourhood, someone refused to get vaccinated after which a doctor contacted me to convince that individual. I went to that person, who was 73 years old, and tried to convince him that he should get vaccinated. But his concern was that after getting the vaccine, he may not be able to have children,” he said.
Although no one has been able to substantiate claims that Covid-19 vaccines have an adverse impact on reproductive health, such conspiracy theories abound on social media and impressionable people are often taken in by them.
Speaking at the event, the health minister offered up his own logic; he said that people should understand that the ministry did not want to reduce the number of Muslims, rather it was trying to improve the health, quality of life and education of Muslims living in Pakistan.
“People should understand that they are living in a country where Muslims are already in majority. If they (Muslims) would have been in minority, there could have been a justification to increase the population,” he said.
He warned that the country’s population was set to swell to 285-300 million by the end of the year 2030.
“It is an alarming situation and there is a need to impart awareness among the masses that Islam does not stop them from population welfare. There is a need to mentally prepare people to accept that such steps are being taken for their benefit,” he said.
The minister prayed that people would understand that population welfare was in their interest and they would stop considering it a foreign agenda or conspiracy.
Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2022