July 11 is celebrated as World Population Day throughout the world including Pakistan. The history behind this specific date is that on July 11, 1987, the world’s population reached five billion. The day was suggested by Dr KC Zachariah, a well-known demographer at the World Bank. After that, for the first time in 1989, the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recommended this day as an annual event to raise awareness about global population issues. This day creates awareness about the various issues caused by population growth, such as the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal and baby health and human rights. Every year this day is celebrated with a specific theme. The theme for 2018 is “family planning is a human right”. In 1968, an international conference was held on human rights, in which for the first time it was confirmed that family planning is a human right, and July 11, marks the 50th anniversary of that conference. According to the declaration of that conference, it is a basic right of parents to decide the number of children they want to have, and when. This year’s theme touched on family planning being a human right. The theme has been chosen for 2018 because millions of women still do not have access to safe and effective family planning methods. According to the 2017 census, the population of Pakistan is 207,774,520 excluding Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan while it numbers at 212,742,631, including Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. Before July 2018, Pakistan was the sixth most populous country in the world. But it has now crossed Brazil, to take up the fifth spot — something that should worry us all. The current population growth rate is 2.1 per cent. For Pakistan to survive and prosper, it needs to tackle the issue of overpopulation on priority The world population today has reached 7.6 billion. The ratio of births to death per hour is 15,000 births each hour to 6,316 deaths. In the near future, Pakistan could face a severe water shortage. There are various factors which play an important role in water shortage, but the most important one is overpopulation. The issue is not only responsible for the water shortage but also causes some other negative effects, such as unemployment. Overpopulation brings with it hunger and starvation and becomes the fuel for environmental degradation. For Pakistan to survive, the population crisis needs to be tackled on a priority basis. To control the population explosion, the population welfare ministry, departments and their family welfare centres are already working in Pakistan. But more steps are required to increase awareness about the issue. The ministry of health services should stress the relevant departments to conduct seminars and workshops on the underlying issues because Pakistan can only prosper if the issue of overpopulation is tackled properly. The writer is a pharmacist. He can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, July 12th 2018.