Urgent call to curb population growth
As the world today marks the International Population Day, the United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) has warned against unabated population growth rate in Rwanda, which stands at 2.8 per cent up from 2.1 per cent last year.
She said that although Rwanda’s economic grew about 8 per cent last year, the high population growth rate was a threat to economic gains.
The Rwandan population Pyramid is very youthful with more than 62 per cent of the population below the age of 25 years, according to statistics.
Akyeampong explained that the implication of this situation is that it creates a high dependency ratio where a minority group has to take care of the majority non-working population.
According to the UN agency, what matters is the quality of life than the number or size of the family.
She said government ought to invest more in the youth by offering them opportunities to change their sexual and reproductive behavior. “Young people need complete information and access to SRH services and encouragement to opt for smaller and healthier families”
The UNFPA urges government to tackle population explosion using a number of strategies.
Government should focus on lowering the total fertility rate and to sensitise the population on the benefits smaller families, the official said.
“The pressures on land, infrastructure, and natural resources are the direct consequence of high population growth and high population density. The policy will adhere to the guidelines set out by the 1994 ICPD in Cairo to which Rwanda is a signatory to,” Akyeampong continued.
In Rwanda, the day will be marked at Petit Stade in Remera today, at the national level.
A press release quotes John Rwangombwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, as acknowledging the concerns over the growing population.
“We, as Government, continued to highlight the importance of pre- and post natal care, contraception use, and family planning. The building blocks of our society begin at the grassroots level and this is why we believe in bringing different groups together that work with our communities to share ideas,” he is quoted as saying.
Reports indicate that Rwanda’s population growth rate is among the highest in Africa currently, at the 2.6.
In an interview with The New Times, the Integration Coordinator of Family Planning and HIV at the Ministry of Health, Dr Anicet Nzabanimpa said, the government is implementing a strong Family Planning programme.
Dr Nzabanimpa said that some of the causes of population explosion are the high fertility rate among women in reproductive age (4.6 children), cultural beliefs that having many children is a source of power and wealth as well as and religious influence.
“Government is now focusing on creation of secondary health posts near the health centers not providing modern contraceptive methods (i.e. managed by catholic church), contraceptive methods and other FP services are free of charge in all health facilities (except in private clinics), Nzabanimpa explained.
Reproductive health problems remain a leading cause of ill health and death among women of childbearing age worldwide.
Major problems related to women’s reproductive life include: unwanted pregnancies, maternal deaths, unsafe abortions, disabilities, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and gender-based violence among others.
Access to voluntary family planning alone can reduce unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal deaths and disabilities, saving women’s lives and those of their children, officials said.
The current population status in Rwanda is projected at 11,033,141 in 2012, up from an estimated 10,718,379 in 2011. These projections are based on the 2002 Census results.
The next census is due August 16-30.
According to a new study whose findings were released ahead of the London Conference on Family Planning, today, use of contraceptives saves lives of more than 250,000 women in the developing world each year.
In 2008, approximately 272,040 women died during childbirth or from dangerous abortion procedures worldwide, according to the research.
Researchers estimated that without the use of contraceptives, the rate of maternal death would have been 1.8 times greater.
The study found that prematurity and low birth weight doubled when conception occurred within six months of a previous birth, and that children born within two years of an elder sibling were 60 per cent more likely to die in infancy than those born two years afterward.
“Increasing contraceptive use in developing countries has cut the number of maternal deaths by 40 per cent over the past 20 years,” researchers stated.
The study concluded that the number of unwanted pregnancies and unmet contraceptive need are still high in many developing countries and that the use of contraception is “a substantial and effective primary prevention strategy to reduce maternal mortality in developing countries”.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the research findings indicate that satisfying the unmet contraceptive needs of women in the developing world would result in a 29 per cent decrease of maternal deaths.
By Evaline Namuwaya, The New Times
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