Special Content

Issue no 16, 16 - 22 JULY 2022

World Population Day Global Trends and Initiatives

We are living in an era of unprecedented population growth. In the middle of the twentieth century in 1950, five years after the founding of the United Nations, world population was estimated at around 2.5 billion people. Since then, world population has more than tripled in size, rising to almost 7.7 billion in 2021. Not only that, the world's population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050 and could peak at nearly 11 billion around 2100.

This dramatic growth 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.

Initially, the increasing population and better lifestyle demand improved standards of food, clothing, shelter, comfort, and recreation for the people. As the population increased at an exponential rate, the increasing demand for all this has put our resources and environment under stress and even degraded them. Resource use, waste production and environmental degradation are accelerated by population growth. They are further exacerbated by consumption habits, certain technological developments, and particular patterns of social organization and resource management.

World Population Day, which seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, was established by the thenGoverning Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. On 11 July 1987 - the Day of Five Billion was observed when the world's population was well above five billion. United Nations General Assembly decided to continue observing World Population Day to enhance awareness of population issues, including their relations to the environment and development.

World Population Day

By resolution 45/216 of December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly decided to continue observing World Population Day. The Day was first marked on 11 July 1990 in more than 90 countries. Since then, a number of United Nations Population Fund, formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), country offices and other organizations and institutions commemorate World Population Day, in partnership with governments and civil society.

The theme of World Population Day 2022 is "A world of 8 billion: Towards a resilient future for all - Harnessing opportunities and ensuring rights and choices for all".

This year, the population will hit 8 billion, prompting the attendant responses. While one might marvel at the advancements in health that have extended life spans, reduced maternal mortality and child mortality and given rise to vaccine development in record time. Others will tout technological innovations that have eased our lives and connected us more than ever. But progress is not universal. Women are still dying in childbirth. Gender gaps remain entrenched. The digital divide leaves more women and those in developing countries offline. More recently, COVID-19 vaccines remain unevenly distributed. And the concerns and challenges of Climate change, violence, discrimination have worsened.

Raising Awareness

The aim of the celebration is to pay great attention towards the reproductive health problems of the community people as it is the leading cause of the ill health as well as the death of pregnant women worldwide. The campaign of the World Population Day every year increases the knowledge and skills of the people worldwide towards their reproductive health and family planning.

Through this great awareness celebration, people are encouraged to take part in the event to know about population issues like importance of family planning towards the increasing population, gender equality, maternal and baby health, poverty, human rights, right to health, sexuality education, use of contraceptives and safety measures like condoms, reproductive health, adolescent pregnancy, girl child education, child marriage, sexually transmitted infections, etc.

Sexuality related issues are very necessary to solve among youth, especially those between 15 to 19 years of age. Access to safe, voluntary family planning is a human right. It is also central to gender equality and women's empowerment, and is a key factor in reducing poverty. Investments in making family planning available also yields economic and other gains that can propel development forward.

World Population Trends

The recent past has seen enormous changes in fertility rates and life expectancy. In the early 1970s, women had on average 4.5 children each; by 2015, total fertility for the world had fallen to below 2.5 children per woman. Meanwhile, average global lifespans have risen, from 64.6 years in the early 1990s to 72.6 years in 2019.

In addition, the world is seeing high levels of urbanization and accelerating migration. 2007 was the first year in which more people lived in urban areas than in rural areas, and by 2050 about 66 per cent of the world population will be living in cities.

 These megatrends have farreaching implications. They affect economic development, employment, income distribution, poverty and social protections. They also affect efforts to ensure universal access to health care, education, housing, sanitation, water, food and energy. To more sustainably address the needs of individuals, policymakers must understand how many people are living on the planet, where they are, how old they are, and how many people will come after them.

A path towards a more sustainable future requires demographic foresight, which involves anticipating the nature and consequences of major population shifts before and while they occur and adopting forward looking and proactive planning guided by such analysis. In working to achieve sustainable patterns of consumption and production and to reduce the impacts of human activity on the environment, it is important to recognize that plausible future trajectories of world population lie within a relatively narrow range, especially in the short or medium term.

 Population and Development

Population and health form the crux of the development process of any nation and Family Planning acts as a very crucial determinant. The perks of family planning are not just limited to population stabilisation; rather it is one of the major contributors in ensuring good health for women, families and communities.

Sustained, rapid population growth adds to the challenge of achieving social and economic development and magnifies the scale of the investments and effort required to ensure that no one is left behind. Rapid population growth makes it more difficult for low-income and lower-middle-income countries to afford the increase in public expenditures on a per capita basis that is needed to eradicate poverty, end hunger and malnutrition, and ensure universal access to health care, education and other essential services.

To end poverty and hunger, achieve the SDGs related to health, education and access to decent work, and build the capacity to address environmental challenges, the economies of low-income and lowermiddle-income countries need to grow much more rapidly than their populations, requiring greatly expanded investments in infrastructure as well as increased access to affordable energy and modern technology in all sectors.

Environmental damage often arises from economic processes that lead to higher standards of living for the population, especially when the full social and environmental costs, such as damage from pollution, are not factored into economic decisions about production and consumption. Population growth amplifies such pressures by adding to total economic demand.

Moving the global economy towards greater sustainability requires a progressive decoupling of the growth in population and in economic activity from a further intensification of resource extraction, waste generation and environmental damage. Limiting climate change and global warming, for example, requires rapid progress in decoupling economic activity from the current overreliance on fossil fuels.

India's Action Taken Report

India was one of the first countries in the world to formulate a National Family Planning Program way back in 1952 which was later expanded to cover maternal and child health as well as adolescent health and nutrition. Family planning is just the first step on a long journey towards growth, equality and development.

Addressing population growth has been a key priority for the Government of India. Birth control thus was the prime focus of the program in initial years. Over the decades the program has evolved to the current holistic and target free approach. India formulated its National Population Policy in 2000 which lays emphasis on reducing the unmet needs for family planning, improvement of health care infrastructure and attaining Population Stabilization by the year 2045. The program focuses on assuring complete knowledge and access to reproductive rights and services and enables women and men to make individual reproductive choices.

In India, Family Planning 2020 has been utilized as a platform to focus on improving access to Family Planning services through provision of fixed day static services, improving overall quality of services, influencing the demand for contraceptives and expanding the basket of choices. The National Family Planning Program compliments India's commitment at International Forums (viz. International Conference on Population and Development-ICPD, Sustainable Development Goals-SDG, FP2020/ FP2030 and others).

India has been in the forefront of expanding post-partum Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) services. At village level ASHAs have been delivering contraceptives (Condoms, Oral Contraceptive Pills & Emergency Contraceptive Pills) at the doorstep of clients. ASHA has been instrumental in counseling the couples for delaying the birth of first child by at least two years and maintain a healthy spacing of at least three years between the first and second child.

 Currently, the Family Planning methods in India can be broadly classified in two categories - Spacing Methods and Limiting/Permanent Methods:

A) Spacing Methods: These are reversible methods which can be adopted and discontinued as per an individual's choice like Oral contraceptive pills (Combined oral contraceptive pill (Mala N), Centchroman (Chhaya), Condoms (Nirodh), Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices (IUCD 380A - effective for 10 years, IUCD 375- effective for 5 years) and Contraceptive Injectable MPA (Antara Program)

B) Permanent Methods: These methods are irreversible in nature like male and female sterilization. For females, options like Minilaparotomy and Laparoscopy and for males conventional and non-scalpel vasectomy (no incision no stitches) are available. Permanent methods are generally available at primary health centre level or above. They are provided by MBBS doctors who have been trained to provide these services.

C) Emergency Contraceptive Pills: These are to be consumed in cases of emergency arising out of unplanned/unprotected intercourse and should never be considered a replacement for a regular contraceptive.

The Government of India has invested substantial domestic funding to achieve the ambitious FP2020 goals. The major initiatives under Family Planning include Mission Parivar Vikas, Injectable Contraceptive MPA, Family Planning - Logistics Management Information System (LMIS), Family Planning Communications Campaign. The National Family Planning Program has introduced the Injectable Contraceptive in the public health system under the "Antara" program. This contraceptive is highly effective and will meet the changing needs of couples and help women space their pregnancies.

 India has been an important and active member of Family Planning 2020 partnership, advancing collaborative efforts to address the policy, financing, delivery and socio-cultural barriers to women accessing contraceptive information, services and supplies. The alliance provided an impetus to our national agenda of protecting mothers and children through improving access to family planning choices. From the time of the partnership's initiation in 2012, India added more than 1.5 crore additional users for modern contraceptives thereby increasing the modern contraceptive use to 55%.

Source: PIB/UN/MoHFW Compiled by Annesha Banerjee and Anuja Bhardwajan