By Juldeh Njie
The National Population Commission Secretariat (NPCS) in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has Tuesday celebrated World Population Day at Sanyang Village, West Coast Region with the theme “Family planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations.
The world celebrates world population day 11 July every year as per the recommendation advanced by the then UNDP governing council in 1989. They recommended that attention be paid to population issues and its linkages to socio-economic development issues.
The objective of the day according to the organizers is to create awareness on population and development issues as they relate to each other.
The Executive Director of the National Population Commission Secretariat (NPCS) SaikouTrawally said population is a cross-cutting issue.
“It touches on all facets of our day to day activities as human beings. The world population day this year centers on family planning, its relationship with empowerment of people and the development of nations”.
“That is if they were taken care of in terms of education, health services, they could be better citizens and it could lead to savings and investment and accelerated economic growth. Family planning is very key in this, it serves as an engine that helps in addressing the issue of fertility as a result of which the demographics will also take care of themselves”, said the NPS Executive Director.
He said we shouldn’t see family planning as just mere pills taking. “Family planning cuts across in everything that we do as human beings. It is one key factor that helps in reducing poverty; it is one key factor that can help in empowering women.”
According to the Executive Director of NPS, the population policy promotes family planning as an entitlement and right based on voluntary and informed choices. “This is how we should see family planning. The team as it highlights dictates that couples should have the right to choose when, how where to have their kids.”
The UNFPA Assistant Representative and officer in charge Momodou Mboge, said investing in family planning is investing in the health and rights of women and couples worldwide.
According to Mboge these investments also yield economic and other gains that can propel social and economic development.
He said the success will thus lead to the success of 2030 agenda for sustainable development and the accompanying seventeen (17) sustainable development goals (SDG’s) and that family planning is an integral part of the SDG’s.
“This year’s world population day 11 July coincides with the London family summit, the second meeting of the consortium of donors relating to family planning globally and this is what is called Family planning 2020, which aims to improve access to voluntary family planning to over one hundred and twenty million women additionally by 2020. This is investment in family planning”, he said.
According to him the second aspect is family planning and economic and social development. “Extreme poverty can be eradicated; however, doing so requires understanding the complex relationship between family planning, gender equality and economic growth.
“The rights of women and girls to decide freely for themselves on whether when and how many children to have brings women and girls more opportunities to become wage earners, boasting family income levels and as well as gain access to productive resources,” said the UNFPA Assistant Representative.
Mboge said the greatest injustice against women is maternal mortality and this according to him is unacceptable.
“Government should invest in women. We need the political commitment of the government, the mere fact of lack of investment leads to maternal mortality. We need to invest in it for us to have the numbers”, Said Mboge.
Presenting on this year’s theme Famara Fatty, Program Officer of Reproductive Child Health (RCH), said family planning does not only involve contraception and that it also takes into accounts planning your child’s birth for a specific time.
“Family planning has an important long-term impact on the financial situation on any family. It secures the well-being and autonomy of women. It reduces infant mortality and adolescent pregnancies, slows population growths, prevents pregnancy related health risk in women, helps to prevent sexual transmitted diseases and empower people and enhance education”, said Mr. Fatty.