Monday, June 28, 2010

Why population is an economic issue

I was talking to someone who works with the poorest of the poor on their health issues. I asked them if they also work to generate awareness abt population. They said that since population is a "personal" issue, no, they do not talk about it in the health camps, where they provide free check ups and medicines et al.
I really think that population is an economic issue. And a health issue.
A woman's health is severely compromised through multiple gestations. Also, her poor health in turn impacts her ability to look after her children, thus impacting their health as well. A woman with just one child and one gestation is any day healthier than one with multiple gestations.

It is an economic issue because, the one way out of poverty is through education and employment in higher paying jobs. But if there are so many mouths to feed that basic food is an issue, no one can think of education. This, in turn, creates a vicious cycle of poverty-sickness-debt-poverty that is impossible to get out of.

Therefore, for any health initiatives to happen with these people, it is imperative that population - and its economic and health impact, is discussed and openly debated. Unless people - especially the poor, are driven to the debate, they will not think of it as a factor in their poverty.. and its important that they do...

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

That is true. its a vicious cycle really. Why do women (or poor couples) have so many children in first place?
First there are no existing skills with them- neither the husband nor the wife will be able to earn enough on their own. So the problem starts as soon as people with low skills become a 'couple'. More children means more hands... to earn, whichever manner. In more scrupulous families, girls will be married off at young age, so the economic burden is lifted off the parents. naturally will be coupled with someone from similar economic background and so goes on.

How does one create sufficient employment opportunities for the low skilled adults to meet basic needs is the question perhaps.
As you said, it is really an economic issue.

Minka said...

Agree with you whole-heartedly. My aunt who is a gynaec (and works in a govt hospital in Chennai ) makes sure she gets the message across to her patients who are quite poor. I remember her being very harsh to one poor farmer whose wife has a heart condition and take medication which causes fertility to improve as a side effect ( how ironic is that !) and she told the man at this rate the next time she gets pregnant, you will have to bring her dead body here. I thought it was harsh but she said he doesn't get the message that he's neither able to provide for the kids nor is his wife fit to bear or look after any more kids.

on the other hand, some of us well-off people (myself included ) can partake of fertility treatments and IUI/IVF just because we can afford it. Should the govt ban these treatments because the country is already populated ? I should hope not.

BK Chowla, said...

I fully agree that it is a socio economic problem.
But,unfortunately, during emergency, Sanjay Gandhi's initiative was misunderstood and since then the Govt wants to be kept away from any issue related to population control.

shadows said...

the observation isnt too far off... but i have seen a gradual awareness in the urban poor regarding birth control. the poor have very less means of birth control to be frank, and/or are scared of using birth control techniques (condoms, copper T, Contraceptive pills, etc) often thinking that it will affect their sexual and/or physical health.

its more a case of superstition, lack of knowledge and inability of thinking ahead. I belong to middle class educated family, and i think most belonging to my economic segment would believe that we really think about family planning (not having a child without sufficient funds int he bank, trying to think about insurance, tax saving, child's education) things that the poor and uneducated dont take into account.

however, more and more people are being warned of this situation, by various NGOs, which impart sex education to school going adolescents and teens working in the streets. I have in my experience seen tens of families (urban poor) who understand that more than 1 kid means more than one mouth to feed, and also that girl child will probably do better in life than a boy. as girls tend to be more sensitised to the economic condition of their family (im not being sexist, its just a personal experience)

Neha said...

Yes, I agree to what you and the rest of the people have commented about.

But what we forget is that we live in a country where the number of villages and small towns outnumber cities by any measure. It is in these villages and small towns where the population growth is the maximum, all because of lack of awareness and society pressures. There is very less scope of another rationale, for the growth in population. The government is trying their very best to try and bring awareness in the country, but trust me it will take a very long time for the country to understandthe scenario. More so because we live in a democratic country. We cannot apply the kind of rules which China did. So we just have to do our best and try and contribute in bringing awareness in our society.