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Threat from rapidly growing population

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EXPERTS have sounded alert over a massive population explosion in near future if the fertility rate cannot be reduced immediately. At a seminar in the city recently they said the current fertility rate in the country at 2.3 has to be reduced to 2 within next five years, otherwise an explosion would be inevitable that may eat up the socio-economic gains that the country has so far achieved. The destabilizing affects will be severe at all levels including sharp pressure in the job market. This is time, they have rightly said to be cautious and accelerate campaign about family planning for encouraging smaller size of families at poor to low-income level.

The government's effort to reduce fertility rate in women is insufficient while door-to-door awareness program for family planning remained suspended from a decade back when it had achieved the primary target of reducing fertility rate. Government paid family planning visitors in rural and urban slums are not noticeable as the program has almost lost the steam. NGOs activities to control unplanned population booming are also invisible while price of conceptive kits have increased manifolds. The government should take action plan to reduce the fertility rate for achieving sustainable development.

Quoting expert opinions, a report in a national daily said if the current fertility rate continues, the country's population would rise to 223.5 million in 2041. To keep it at 206.5 million fertility rate needs to be reduced to 2.0. Women are the main stakeholders to keep the size of the population at reasonable level and so family planning program must make greater access to them for the purpose. Women are shy to talk about it with their family members, and in most cases they do not know about contraceptive use and its availability. So, the health workers should equally focus on men as they are the ultimate decider.

Managing population requires planned actions and improving the quality of life of people. It needs balanced distribution of rural-urban migrants, relocation of industries to countryside and increasing people's mobility. When people become used to good life at higher income, they become conscious to keep the size of the family reduced at manageable level. So the government must take more socio-economic activities to take the poor in the mainstream development activities. There is no alternative to it.

In our view an effective family planning program cannot achieve its goal through mobilizing health workers alone. A concerted effort by all - media, political institutions, policy makers, technocrats, community leaders, related Ministries etc -- should be ensured. There must be the realization that a population explosion will become a bigger threat to the society when we need more educated younger generation - trained and skilled -- to become more productive workers and managers to accelerate the growth. Not the number, quality of manpower that now maters.

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