SC Task Force calls for accelerating efforts to reduce population growth rate
The Task force was constituted by a three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.
The rapidly growing population has direct negative implications for adverse climate change, environmental degradation, deforestation, and above all the decline in water availability per capita putting Pakistan in water stress situation. It will exacerbate food security and threaten the country's sustainable development progress.
The Task Force has recommended that progress towards reducing growth, lowering fertility rate and increasing contraceptive prevalence rate in the country should be presented before task forces to be established at the national and provincial levels.
It recommended that it should be mandatory for all public health facilities to deliver family planning services as part of the essential service package. All general registered private sector practitioners and hospitals should provide family planning counseling, information, and services to male and female clients. Lady health workers should provide family planning, antenatal, and postnatal counseling and contraception services on priority basis.
Federal and provincial governments should link population programs with social safety net programs like Benazir Income Support Program and introduce conditional cash transfer for adoption of family planning service and institutionalized birth delivery.
The Task Force has asked the federal government to create a five-year non-lapsable special fund for reducing population growth rate with annual allocation of ten billion rupees. The fund will be used for efforts to reduce population growth in Pakistan.
It has also been recommended to ensure legislation regarding provision of family planning services by all general health care facilities in public and private sector. Family Planning and Reproduction Health Rights Bill and Early Child Marriage Act will be introduced. Pre-marital counseling on family planning should be mandatory for Nikah registration.
A national narrative should be developed in consultation with provinces and other stakeholders to create sense of urgency and necessity of reducing population growth rate and achieving socio-economic well-being for all.
The Task force emphasized on inclusion of health, hygiene, and training to curriculum at various levels.
Local production of contraceptives should be incentivized and family planning commodities be included in the essential drug list.
The Task force also viewed Ulema's support as vital in efforts to control population and it has recommended arranging of training courses on family planning for them.