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Islamabad, Pakistan (The News International) | With a population growth rate of 2.4% per year, Pakistan’s growing population is likely to outstrip developmental gains, and continue to adversely affect the economy, environment, health, education, and quality of the lives of all citizens, informs the State of World Population 2018 report launched here on Wednesday. Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world with 208 million people.
Titled ‘The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition,’ the report terms the global trend towards smaller families as being reflective of people making reproductive choices to have as few or as many children as they want, and when they want. Once people lack choice, it can have a long-term impact on fertility rates.
Dr. Hassan Mohtashami, UNFPA Representative in Pakistan stated, “Choices can change the world. The power to choose the number, timing and spacing of pregnancies will bolster economic and social progress around the world for decades to come. The unmet need for modern contraception prevents thousands of families from choosing their desired family size and pursuing their dreams and aspirations.”
Pervaiz Ahmed Junejo, Executive Director of NIPS stated, “The Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) key indicators report shows that the current Total Fertility Rate (TFR) at 3.6 is considerably high compared to the countries in the region except for Afghanistan.” The global report found that no country can claim that all of its citizens enjoy reproductive rights at all times. Most couples cannot have the number of children they desire to have because they either lack economic and social support to achieve their preferred family size or don’t have the means to control their fertility. The unmet need for modern contraception prevents millions of women from choosing smaller families.
Since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, reproductive health and rights have substantially improved around the world. People have a greater capacity to claim their rights. The report makes specific recommendations for policies and programmes that would help each country increase reproductive choices.
To make freedom of choice a reality, says the report, countries can prioritise universal access to quality reproductive health care, including modern contraceptives; ensure better education, including age-appropriate and culturally-sensitive sexuality education; advocate for a change in men’s attitudes to be supportive of the rights and aspirations of women and girls; and make it easier for couples to have more children, if they want them, by enabling greater work-life balance through measures such as affordable childcare.

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