The United Nations is an important global body formed in the ashes of World War II to ensure that such a war would never ever again occur. Now, many decades later, it’s expanded its scope to include humanitarian relief and aid, protection of culture, and of the right to belief. One of its core areas is reducing poverty and encouraging international cooperation in areas beyond its intended scope. World health is also an important aspect of its mission. It is in this spirit of health that World Population Day began in 1990.
What is World Population Day and What is it For?
World Population Day is – as it sounds – about promoting the issues surrounding global population. Its inaugural day came in 1990 but born in 1989 to mark the anniversary of the day in 1987 when global population hit 5 billion. Today, World Population Day examines the problems faced in the world by population issues including:
- Family planning, particularly in developing nations with poor or no access to contraceptives
- Problems with infant mortality and the health of the mother, particularly in the developing world
- Food security and energy security in a world increasingly demanded greater levels of access to both
- Overpopulation in individual areas, countries and the world that put a strain on public services as well as resources
- Global population and environmental pressures of a growing population
World Population Day not only raises awareness of these issues but also attempts to provide relief in problem areas. There is a strong correlation between these global population and poverty. Alleviate these problems and we can go a long way to reducing global poverty.
Facts and Statistics
Governments, scientists, relief workers and a multitude of other groups carefully monitor the global population. Yet most of us don’t give it much thought purely beyond the milestones. News articles inform us every year about which billion milestone we just passed. Population, if not controlled, can be a ticking time bomb. China’s “one child per couple” is an extreme example of trying to cope with a common problem. In other areas of the world, there is another demographic time-bomb: dropping birth rates as people opt not to have children, have fewer children and have them later in life.
- The world population has experienced uninterrupted growth since the Great Famine of 1315. This despite the Black Death three decades later, multiple famines, disease (influenza, cholera and bubonic plague) and the world wars of the 20th century
- The highest period of global population growth came 1955-1970 when the birth rate was 1.8% per year. In 2015 it was recorded at 1.18%. By 2100, it could be as low as 0.13%
- The trend is for ever increasing population: numbers increase by 83 million each year
- Even with declining birth rates, we expect to hit 8.6 billion by 2030 and 11.2 billion by 2100
World Population Day is Hands Off
Most awareness days of the UN are not practical, but symbolic. This is one of a few with practical steps, guidance and solutions. Instead of focusing on the work of the UN, the body responsible for World Population Day UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) works with national government agencies, charities and other bodies to bring about positive results and solutions.
Their remit includes helping people in developing countries gain access to contraception, STD/STI prevention, improving survival rates of newborn children, improving health systems and by encouraging governments to develop policies that take population growth into account. One of their key areas is healthcare in childbirth – particularly reducing instances of obstetric fistula in new mothers. Considered a condition of the poverty-stricken (as it’s caused by poor access to gynaecological health care during the birthing period), it damages the bodies and takes the lives of women and girls in childbirth.