July 11 Is UN World Population Day

The following guest post comes to us via Esteban Camarena, a graduate student at the University of Arizona. He is currently in Brazil doing field research on politics and public health policy. He can be reached at estebanc@email.arizona.edu.

The world’s population is on the way to reaching 8.6 billion people by 2030 — that’s approximately 1.1 billion more inhabitants on the planet in less than 13 years. If we break it down further, that’s 84.6 million more people per year, 7.1 million per month, 1.8 million per week, or 252,0000 people added every day, roughly.

July 11 is UN World Population Day, which aims to create awareness of population growth issues and their relation to the environment and development. With the world’s population increasing every year, the limited amount of natural resources combined with the effect of climate change hinders any country’s ability to achieve sustainable economic growth and development. As the global population continues to grow, so too does the demand for food, water, energy, and land.

An investment in women’s health is an investment in families’ economic stability and a country’s development.

The inability to meet these demands will inevitably lead to malnutrition, poverty, and conflict between nations and people. This depletion of resources would particularly affect developing countries where the greatest amount of population growth is expected; in fact, more than half of the anticipated growth will occur in Africa, followed by Asia and Latin America. Among other factors, population growth is concentrated in these developing regions due to limited or lack of access to reproductive health care, family planning services, and sex education.

According to a recent study published by the Guttmacher Institute, more than 214 million women in developing countries who want to plan their pregnancies either don’t have access to modern contraception or are using ineffective methods of birth control. Moreover, women in developing countries have limited access to pre- and postnatal care, which affects the child’s and woman’s prospects of a healthy life. Indeed, this year “an estimated 308,000 women in developing countries will die from pregnancy-related causes, and 2.7 million babies in the first month of life.” Access to reproductive health care, family-planning services, and sex education is not only vital for a healthy life, but is also fundamental in reducing poverty and propelling economic development, which is why it is important to invest in women’s health.

An estimated $52.5 billion investment, or just $8.39 per person yearly, is needed to fully meet the demand for contraception and maternal and newborn health care services in developing countries. The Guttmacher Institute study also shows that these investments consequently reduce the cost of health care in the long run, estimating that for every dollar spent, the cost of pregnancy-related health care reduces by $2.30. The funding gap can be closed by reasonable contributions from governments, NGOs, and individuals alike. Nonetheless, President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule, which bars any world organization linked with abortion from receiving U.S. foreign aid, essentially blocks necessary aid to countries and NGOs that depend on the funds for HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning, and maternal and newborn health care services.

As the world’s population continues to grow by each second, it is more important than ever to provide effective family planning and reproductive health care services in the U.S. and abroad. Not only does access to reliable contraception contribute to reducing poverty and malnutrition worldwide, it also stimulates economic development, and eases the strain on the environment and demand for natural resources, especially as the threat of climate change becomes more urgent.

On UN World Population Day, let’s remember the important role that Planned Parenthood and similar organizations abroad have in ensuring healthy lives worldwide and protecting the environment.