The world population has clocked to 7 billion people. That’s good news and congratulations to whoever has had a hand in this achievement. But before we pop champagne, we only need to know that this is also bad news. The bad news is that the world resources cannot support this huge population.
The pressure on the available resources is overwhelming and there is a need to be worried. The irony is that the major key players in population increase are not aware of the danger ahead of us. The poor are busy producing as many children as they can.
The need to control world population received warm reception from the elites around the world and efforts have been invested in achieving this objective. Programmes to promote family planning in developing countries began in the 1960s in response to large improvements in child survival, which in turn led to rapid population growth.
In Asia, the main motive was to enhance prospects for socioeconomic development by reducing population growth, and governments took the lead. In Latin America, initiatives were galvanized by evidence of increases in illegal unsafe abortions, and efforts to remedy the situation by providing access to modern contraceptives.
Family planning plays a pivotal role in population growth, poverty reduction, and human development. It is important to note that failure to sustain family planning programs, both domestically and abroad, will lead to increased population growth and poorer health worldwide, especially among the poor.
In a country where family planning is observed citizens are likely to enjoy a range of benefits, including maternal and infant survival, nutrition, educational attainment, the status of girls and women at home and in society, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention, and environmental conservation efforts.
This therefore means that family planning is a prerequisite for achievement of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals and for realizing the human right of reproductive choice
Despite the efforts put in sensitizing the masses about the benefits of family planning the rate at which the local people embrace the practice is still low. Policy makers as well as implementers are frustrated by the low achievement registered.
But engaging the poor to foster their participation in policy processes requires time, effort, commitment, and resources. Family planning and reproductive health champions need to adopt an open attitude and genuinely seek to learn about the real-life situation of the poor.
There is also need to establish open communications by meeting with the poor and/or their representatives and listening to the poor describe their socioeconomic situation, major worries, childbearing experiences, and access to and use of family planning and reproductive health services.
These efforts open up opportunities for joint learning and information exchange. In addition, they also need to work together closely to identify problems and potential solutions, as well as to develop and implement policies that are truly responsive to the needs of the poor.
Efforts to engage the poor are amply repaid in terms of the information and insights that they provide and their contributions as program planners, implementers, and monitors.
The poor need to be regarded as experts in their own right and thus as essential members of policy formulation and implementation teams. When the poor are involved in devising solutions to problems, the resulting programs are more likely to have local ownership and involvement and hence be more sustainable over time.
According to UN Reports, promotion of family planning in countries with high birth rates has the potential to reduce poverty and hunger and avert 32% of all maternal deaths and nearly 10% of childhood deaths. It would also contribute substantially to women’s empowerment, achievement of universal primary schooling, and long-term environmental sustainability.
This is enough reason to embrace the policy. Some countries in South Asia, like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh face a serious reproductive health challenge. The government approach to deal with this issue is varied in different parts of the world.
China has taken a drastic step, by implementing the One-child policy as a method of population control. It restricts urban couples to only one child, while making allowances for cases like twins. Although authorities claim that this controversial policy has prevented 400 million births between 1979 to 2011, the policy has often resulted in an increase in female infanticide.
Yet, a 2008 survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center reported that 76% of Chinese people support the policy. In the developed first world, the challenge is diametrically opposite due to declining fertility rates. Governments often give incentives to couples for having children. In Russia, a government initiated program pays mothers $10,000 for the birth of a second child.