Interpreting the World Population Day 11th July

What is the significance of 11th July in your life? It’s a lot. On this World Population Day, it’s an opportunity to reflect on this “time-bomb” that the world is sitting on. This great “controlled explosion” of the number of people on earth affects everyone, in one way or another. Especially in developing countries like Nepal, population growth directly impact the availability of amenities, pressure on urban habitat, and poverty, among other things.  Not only that, overpopulation is directly related to excessive depletion and exploitation of natural resources, and hence climate change. Above everything, it is a woman’s right issue highlighting the lack of bodily autonomy at large. 

Are we approaching extinction? 

Is it a dramatic presumption? Let’s have a look at how dramatic has the population growth been? For the world population to grow to 1 billion, it took hundreds and thousands of years. But, it grew sevenfold in the next two hundred years or so. The global population crossed the 7 billion mark in 2011. Ten years hence, it stands over  7.8 billion now. At this rate, it is expected that the population will grow to 8.5 billion in 2030, and 9.7 billion by 2050. If the current rate of population growth is not restrained, it would mean doubling the world population every 35 years!

The effect of overpopulation on natural resources is turning to be cataclysmic. You may not believe it at the end of the day, but it’s a sad reality for the millions of plants and animal species that have become extinct! Overpopulation causes loss of habitat and rapid deforestation. Climate change and population growth reciprocate each other, and together they have devastating effects on entire ecosystems.

Will there be a saturation point beyond which the world would not be able to sustain life anymore? It does seem like it would not be brought about by a nuclear explosion, but by population explosion in a not-so-far-away future.

This is why occasions like World Population Day are important as it raises the consciousness about this pressing problem. The time has indeed come to take a closer view of the far-reaching implications of global population growth. It might be easy to dismiss the theory of extinction as a knee-jerk reaction, but it is probably not practical to do so. Hard reality beckons and the world must find a way to leave behind a habitable planet for future generations. 

Interpreting population growth

The cause of population growth can ironically be linked with medical advancements that have reduced mortality rate scenarios worldwide. Although it is a success story from a medical perspective, unfortunately, from the population perspective, it has become a worldwide menace. Other reasons can be attributed to an increasing number of people reaching reproductive age. It has also been associated with factors like major changes in fertility rates, urbanization, and migration, causing pressure on major cities.

  • The scenario in Nepal

The population of Nepal currently stands at about 29.7 million. The population growth index of Nepal is 1.85%. Our country is projected to surpass 30 million people by 2022. The population ratio of Nepal in 2020 was 84.55 males per 100 females. Nepal covers a land area of 147,181 square kilometers. As per the current population, it translates to about 201 people per square kilometer. However, much of Nepal’s population is concentrated in Kathmandu, with a density of 20,288 people per square kilometer.

Kathmandu has close to 1.5 million residents. Other big cities in Nepal are Pokhara and Patan. In both these cities, the population is approximately in the range of 200,000 people. The growth rate of the population in Nepal can be attributed to a combination of different factors such as poverty, illiteracy, early marriage, and growing internal migration.

Finding solutions

Occasions such as World Population Day are great opportunities for arriving at a consensus that overpopulation is already a serious problem. Before it becomes unsustainable, effective steps should be taken to ensure the well-being of future generations. It is a mammoth task, and organizations like the United Nations are at the forefront of coordinating the efforts that should eventually lead to positive outcomes. Solutions must be employed at both macro and micro levels. Also, the solution to the population problem is tied to issues of social justice, such as the eradication of poverty and promoting literacy among the masses.

  • Raising awareness

The adult literacy rate of Nepal currently stands at 67.9%, which is not very encouraging. Family planning is an obvious solution, but it is practically impossible to implement in the absence of social injustice. Unless social evils such as child marriage, superstitions, and poverty are alleviated, it is very difficult to encounter the problem at its root. On a positive note, awareness is continuously increasing thanks to initiatives from both government and non-government bodies.  

  • Women empowerment

Most importantly, as women are gaining more autonomy over their bodies, it has led to a natural consensus of having smaller families. After all, mothers know that it is easier and more practical to manage smaller families. However, the fight is far from over, as, in many places, women are still subject to exploitation. Exemplary actions should be taken against sexual abuse because it is the worst form of exploitation.

There must be a “conscious revolution” on these matters, and women worldwide should be eventually granted ultimate autonomy over their own bodies.  Liberated women and conscious men should play positive roles in communities, families, and societies at large. Propagation of both male and female education is important to achieve this over the next generations.

  • Family planning

In this respect, it is also important to break psychological and social taboos on sexual health issues. Contraception should be something that can be discussed without suppressed giggles and slanted remarks! The fertility rate can be brought down by creative and ethical family planning campaigns. Also, worldwide, government bodies should take note of overpopulation and encourage people to have smaller families.  

Final words

Nepal has a long history of supporting family planning objectives at an official level.  The late King of Nepal joined several other heads of states in 1968, endorsing a United Nations Declaration on Population. This declaration observed family planning as a basic human right and a vital element of developmental planning. Current studies point to several key areas of improvement in this field. The roles played by Community Pharmacy Practitioners (CPPs) in endorsing the use of Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs) cannot and should not be overlooked.  

At Pharmalife, we take our role in encountering this issue very seriously. We firmly believe that methods of family planning should be available to anyone at any time. We also follow a well-defined objective of training pharmacy professionals on the provision of contraceptive methods to families and young adults.

We have integrated the digital infrastructure of bringing together 2000 pharmacies all over Nepal, having one in every 2 km from wherever you are. We use AI to manage supply chains and ensure the availability of medicines at all our stores. We aim to build the largest chain of pharmacies all over Nepal and do our part to help people choose family planning.

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