World Population Day


Shazia Nayyer
World Population Day is an annual event, observed on July 11 every year, seeking to raise awareness of global population issues. The event was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Program in 1989. July 11, 1987 was designated as the “Day of Five Billion” by the United Nations Population Fund, as the world’s population touched five billion figures on the same day. World Population Day aims to increase people’s awareness on different issues related to overpopulation, such as the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights.It took hundreds of thousands of years for the world population to 1 billion – then in just another 200 years or so, it grew sevenfold. In 2011, the global population touched the 7 billion mark, and today, it stands at about 7.7 billion, and it’s expected to grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and 10.9 billion in 2100, which indeed is not only alarming, but threat to the world in many aspects. This surprising growth in world population has been driven largely by increasing numbers of people surviving to reproductive age, and has been accompanied by major changes in fertility rates, increasing urbanization and accelerating migration. These trends will have far-reaching implications for generations to come. In this second year of COVID-19, we are suspended in an in-between state, where parts of the world are emerging from the deep recesses of the pandemic, while others are locked in battle with the coronavirus, as access to vaccines remains a distant, deadly reality. The pandemic has compromised the health care system, particularly in the areas of sexual and reproductive health. It also exposed and exacerbated gender-based inequities: gender-based violence increased under lockdown. Significant numbers of women left the labor force – their often low-paying jobs were eliminated or caregiving responsibilities for children learning remotely or for homebound older people increased – destabilizing their finances, not just for now but in the long run. Against this backdrop, many countries, including Pakistan are expressing growing concern over changing fertility rates. Historically, alarmism over fertility rates have led to abrogation of human rights. USAID’s Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Program has improved the health of women and children by increasing access, availability and utilization of key health services, as well as strengthening the health system. Specifically, the flagship MCH Program supports innovative approaches to strengthen the capacity of Pakistan’s public and private sectors to deliver high-impact health interventions to reduce maternal, newborn, and child mortality and morbidity. The MCH Program has a comprehensive public and private sector approach at both the federal and provincial level, where it is harmonized with Government of Pakistan’s Vision 2020 and the Health Sector Strategy of Sindh. The MCH Program aimed to achieve the objectives like increase utilization of quality family planning, maternal, neonatal, and child health services, improve nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene practices and strengthen the health system to enable sustainability. Through the USAID initiated MCH program, many activities which brought about a major positive impact were conducted. These activities include: •The Family Planning/Reproductive Health (FP/RH) activity seeks to strengthen the delivery of integrated FP and safe motherhood services to address the unmet need of poor and hard-to-reach communities, builds networks, and strengthens care in the public and private sectors through franchising, voucher systems, and community outreach models. • The Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Services activity supports the introduction, scale up, and further development of high-impact and evidence-based MNCH interventions while incorporating birth spacing and family planning services into public and private sector facilities. • The Health Communication activity uses commercial marketing techniques and innovative social and behavior change communications strategies to position products and services with messages that increase knowledge, create demand, and promote healthy behaviors. • The Health Commodities and Supply Chain activity provide technical assistance to strengthen the government’s capacity to estimate its requirement for contraceptive commodities and undertake transparent procurement; also provide technical assistance to improve and sustain the commodity supply chain management and distribution systems with an emphasis on the logistics management information system. • The Health System’s Strengthening activity provides technical assistance to the public health and population sectors to reform and improve service delivery in a post-devolution operating environment by addressing governance, workforce, information systems, and overall financing, while also supporting both supply- and demand-side initiatives and community financing innovations to reduce financial barriers for the poor. • Nutrition/ Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene activities seek to decrease stunting by strengthening programs and policy; supporting community-oriented approaches; and improving behaviors and practices.