Lanka’s success in stabilising population growth lauded

by Rohan Mathes
Global expert on population related matters and President of the Population Institute, Werner Forno, lauded Sri Lanka’s success in stabilising population growth, stating that Sri Lanka’s efforts were on target.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday at the Trans Asia Hotel, Fornos however said that its ability to sustain that stability would largely depend on the fertility factor pertaining to the segment below 15 years, which represented 28 per cent of country’s population.

He said that Sri Lanka’s replacement level fertility goal set in 1987 at 2.1 children per woman, had been achieved. The projected population for 2050 was 23.2 million. "So the country is doing very well indeed", he noted.

He pointed out that 28 per cent of Sri Lankans were under the age of 15 and had not yet reached their reproductive years. Their fertility decisions would be the key issue in the determination of Sri Lanka’s course in population growth in the mid-century, he added.

Therefore, consistent and accelerated efforts in the provision of reproductive health, family planning, education and information to adolescents would be of vital importance, in the sphere of male responsibility in particular. "Half of the world’s population today is below 25 years of age," he said.

Fornos further pointed out that the mere fact of stability of population in the industrialised world had not defused the population bomb. "Though we salute the efforts which led to the success, the world now stands at 6.3 billion, with an estimated growth of 80 million people per year with 97 per cent of that growth occurring in the poorest countries of the world", he asserted.

"The industrialised world will only contribute 52 million by 2050. The balance will come from environments encompassed by civil unrest, social disintegration and brutal poverty. They will grow by 2.7 billion within the same timeframe. Therefore, to say that the job is completed is coddling the comfortable and ignoring the afflicted", he opined.

"Sri Lanka has succeeded in stabilising their population among those countries that are voluntarily reducing fertility. Contraceptive prevalence has grown from 34 per cent in 1975 to 62 in 1987 and to-date stands at 66 per cent. The growth in population has dropped from 2.8 per annum in the 1950s to 1.2 per cent today", Fornos said.

Commenting on the achievement of the Family Planning Association (FPA) of Sri Lanka, the recipient of the Institute’s Country Award for 2003, Fornos said that the FPA deserved special recognition for their outstanding leadership during the last 50 years of its operations. "If Sri Lanka is to achieve its goal in the stabilisation of its population by the mid-century as indicated, then much of the credit should go to the FPA", he added.

The representatives of the Washington DC based Population Institute will present the Global Media Awards for Excellence in Population Reporting to 13 journalists in the print and electronic media organisations and family planning associations.

At the 24th Global Media Awards Presentation of the Population Institute in Colombo, a Mexican Radio and Television programme on reproductive health care issues, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Inter Press Service and the Sacramento Bee newspaper of the United States and the Jamaican National Family Planning Board would receive awards for Excellence in Population Reporting this year.

Over the 24 years these awards were presented, they have served to build a pool of 3000 journalists around the world who are cognizant of the importance of population and environmental resources.

The Chairman of the panel of judges of the Global Media Awards, Rahul Singh said that a wide array of recipients from rural-based journalists to international personalities had become a key factor to make these awards unique.

"It always invigorates me to see the creative and innovative approaches used to educate the general public about issues that should be of the utmost concern at all levels of society", Singh added.