Population growth is generally highest in the poorest countries – report
- Governments’ lack resources for services, infrastructure, jobs growth
Last year, the world’s population surpassed seven billion and it is projected to reach nine billion by 2050, according to State of World Population 2012 report.
The report says that population growth is generally highest in the poorest countries, where fertility preferences are the highest, where governments lack the resources to meet the increasing demand for services and infrastructure, where jobs growth is not keeping pace with the number of new entrants into the labour force, and where many population groups face great difficulty in accessing family planning information and services.
Worldwide, the report stated that birth rates have continued to decline slowly. However, large disparities exist between more developed and less developed regions.
Additionally, it was further underscored that poverty, gender inequality and social pressures are all reasons for persistent high fertility. But in nearly all of the least-developed countries, lack of access to voluntary family planning is a major contributing factor.
The State of World Population 2012 underscored that planning the number and timing of one’s children is today largely taken for granted by the millions of people who have the means and power to do so. Yet a large proportion of the world’s people do not enjoy the right to choose when and how many children to have because they have no access to family planning information and services, or because the quality of services available to them is so poor that they go without and are vulnerable to unintended pregnancy.
No right exists without obligation, and no obligation is meaningful without accountability, the report further stated that the United Nations treaty-monitoring bodies are charged with tracking government compliance with major human rights treaties and now routinely recommend that governments take action to protect sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
In addition, people younger than 25 years now account for 44 per cent of the world’s total population, and in developing countries, the numbers of children and youth are at all-time high—1.6 billion and 1 billion, respectively. Girls aged 10 to 19 alone account for nearly one-fifth of all women of reproductive age.
“Millions of young people have sex before their parents acknowledge it or before institutions respond to their needs. These young people—married and unmarried—also need services to avoid unintended pregnancy and prevent sexually transmitted infections including HIV but often do not have access.” The report says.
A number of important population groups are neglected by family planning systems or face sometimes insurmountable barriers: young people, unmarried adults in their central reproductive years, people who are separated from their partners, older men, people with disabilities, refugees, people living with HIV/AIDS, ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged groups.
An enormous need exists to provide more systematically and more generously the means to delay and prevent unintended pregnancy. A human rights-based approach to health and to family planning points to this reorientation.
A human-rights framework for policy and programming calls for a focus on fairness and non-discrimination to achieve equality; on reaching the most neglected, often marginalized and vulnerable groups; and on building mechanisms that strengthen monitoring and accountability (UNFPA, 2010). Applying a human rights-based approach requires not only having laws and policies that prohibit and sanction discriminatory practices, but also the systems and civic participation to implement them and to ensure accountability.
The 2012 report further noted that the recent estimates of unmet need indicate the significant levels of investment necessary to uphold the right of the world’s people to family planning. High levels of unmet needs for family planning will be increased in the coming years by the large generation of young people entering their reproductive years.
Family planning has been shown to be one of the most cost-effective public health interventions ever developed. Thus any decision regarding how to invest in family planning must counterpose its costs against the range of benefits it brings to individuals, households and nations.