July 07, 2020
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The UNFPA representative on what the latest world population report signifies

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Is the report a reason to press the panic button?
Not yet! It's a mere number game. Numbers do concern us, but population's about people. It's time to sit, think, act.

How long does it take the world to add a billion?
From 5 to 6 billion took 12 years. The world's growing at around 78 million each year. Anyone who can multiply can see another billion will be added in 12- 14 years.

India being a major population growth concern, what has been lined up when the campaign is launched on October 12?
Ideally, we'd like to see a snowball growing, with every Indian from all walks of life getting involved in a people's movement.

Which Indian states qualify as problem areas and why?
Mostly the North, due to factors like poor family welfare, gender inequality, etc.

Which Asian countries (besides India) have shown alarming growth? Why?
The main ones, besides India, are Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal.

Is there a basic strategy or does every nation create its own strategy?
Every country's different, but there are basic ingredients: given women and men choices, find out what they need and insist on quality of care. These are missing in India.

Has it been difficult reconciling religion with family planning?
Around the world we find that once people know they can plan their families and see the advantages, religion has little influence one way or the other.

How do high mortality rates affect the rate of population growth?
Population growth is just births minus deaths— higher mortality means lower growth.

Despite the UNFPA , why did India take long to abandon the target- oriented approach and implement the reproductive health- oriented one?
We work with national governments; as the UN we always respect national sovereignty.

Finally, what choices do we have ahead of us?
Give every woman and couple the choice to have as many or as few children as they want. Most would choose the latter.

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