World Population Day on July 11 was a bleak reminder for Pakistani health practitioners of the precarious state of maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH). Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has said his government plans to reduce the annual rate of population growth to 1.55 percent from 1.8 percent over five years, but health practitioners say the efforts and money spent so far have not achieved the desired results. Often, women only stop having children when their husbands or mothers-in-law say so. A recent major survey showed a decline in births per woman since the early 1990s, but no improvement since 2001. (IRIN)

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