11 July 2020: World Population Day

Dr Salam Noren Singh *


World Population Day is an annual observance and an international level awareness campaign being celebrated all over the world to focus attention on the urgency and importance of global population issues – namely, the effect of overpopulation on the earth, the consequences to be facing due to the current rate of population growth which will not be able to be sustained in the near future including its relations to the environment and development, the importance of reproductive health and the quality of life.

It was 11 July 1987 on which the world population became almost about five billion. The baby born on 11 July 1987 in Zagreb, Croatia (then SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia) became the world’s 5 billionth human baby boy and his name was Matej Gasper.

This made eye open to all people in the world and started think about the future of this only known planet to live if the growing trend of the population undergoes as in that way. Really, this uncontrollable mankind population has become dangerous for this mankind itself. This is just like digging their own grave by mankind itself.

Beginning from 11 July 1989, today, the 11 July 2019, World Population Day is observing all over the world to spread awareness about the issues of the global population and the importance of reproductive health.

Every year this day is observed with a theme and UN Council decides the Theme for World Population Day to spread the awareness about population growth. The theme of this year is “Putting the breaks on COVID-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now.”

World population at present

The world population is 7.7 billion as on 9 July 2020. According to United Nations predictions it could reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, and over 11.2 billion by 2100.

On the other hand, Most of the world demographers estimated the maximum power/capacity of earth to bear and maintain human being based on different factors as 9 to 10 billion people. Some demographers and Environmentalists predicted that the earth can bear even a population of 11 billion.

But, at first, we must not think about only the population of human beings because only human being cannot survive on this earth. It needs fresh water to drink, food, oxygen, fresh air, conducive environment, land for growing food and textiles for clothing, supplying wood and absorbing waste, fertile topsoil, trees for supplying oxygen, petroleum products, other species balancing environment as of today etc.

Since present world population is about 8 billion, it will be very late to prepare for the control of growth of our population to save the mankind on this earth. To know more about the issues of problem in this world, let’s see the trend of world population as given below:

Trend of World Population:
We may observe the population trend as given below:

A span of 123 years took to attain population from 1 billion to 2 billion. And, it took 32 years and 15 years respectively to attain 3 billion from 2 billion and 4 billion from 3 billion. But within 13 years of span, the population becomes 5 billion from 4 billion.

The lesser in time span in gaining 1 billion more population has become a threat to all of us in terms of inadequate fresh water for drinking as well as sewage treatment, shortage of food and fuel, depletion of natural resources, increase level of air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination, noise pollution, deforestation, global warming and change in landmass and water body as a result, loss of arable land, mass species extinction and contracting biodiversity, poverty, unemployment etc.

It has created the possibility of population explosion in the near future. Even though the time span for reaching 10 billion is extended to 29 years (projection), restriction and maintenance of the world population to 9 to 9.50 billion is the liking of the world demographers to check and avoid from various manifestation due to overpopulation.

As a response, the two leading population producing countries China and India can be check their population growth at replacement level at the earliest and consequently the western countries are already in check of population growth. But the global apprehension is the countries of Africa; they are contributing population with comparatively high population growth rate.

COVID-19 and Safeguard of the health and rights of women and girls

The present trend of world population growth is alarming ( Total Fertility Rate(TFR) = 2.5) and 43 countries has TFR 4 or more while 30 countries have TFR 2.5-3.9. The exploitation of nature due to increase of population may result in producing various unfavourable phenomenon and as its resultant human population reduces.

For example, the main cause of cancer formation are the reach of UV-ray on earth due to disturbance of ozone layer by human being, produce of large amount of oxides of carbon by factories and automobiles, consumption of contaminated water and food etc. The present pandemic COVID-19 disease may be taken as a result of overpopulation and its impact on environment , and it has killed a number of persons in this world; as on 9th July 2020, the total confirmed cases in the world is 1,21,80,154 and the total death is 5,52,380.

As a result of it, UN Council decides the theme for World Population Day of this year is “Putting the breaks on COVID-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now.” Yes, this is the high time to control the spread of COVID-19 disease at the same time to safeguard the health and rights, particularly, of women and girls.

From the past experience while having such health emergencies, it is learnt that there is catastrophic secondary impacts, particularly, on the health of women and girls around the world. As a response to the pandemic, the temporary closing of sexual and reproductive health services in the hospitals threatens sharp rises in maternal and neonatal mortality.

Women and girls are often denied care outright or face dangerous delays in getting the services they need. On the other hand, such disease outbreaks increase girls’ and young women’s duties caring for elderly and ill family members, as well as for siblings who are out of school.

The pregnant women are hampered in seeking regular medical check-up. The COVID-19 confirmed pregnant and lactating women are more vulnerable in their treatment and in looking after their children. At the time of child delivery of normal and, COVID-19 suspected and confirmed women there are lots of inconveniences due to most of the hospitals are being engaged in COVID-19 treatment and limitations in dealing with COVID-19 positive cases.

Here we may remember the exemplary evidence from the West Africa Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016. In that outbreak the biggest threat to women’s and girls’ lives was not the Ebola virus, but the shutdown of routine health services and people’s fear of going to health facilities where they could get infected. The thousands more lives were lost when safe delivery, neonatal, and family planning services became inaccessible due to the outbreak. Unwanted pregnancy is also one of the products of such situations.

The women working in different sectors in general and in hospitals in particular are facing lots of problems in following Standard Operating Procedure(SOP). They need to be quarantine repeatedly and this affects their irreplaceable role in daily household activities and association with family members in general and their small children in particular and hence their mental pressure increases day by day.

The economic challenges during the prolong lockdown of such outbreak pose a serious threat to young women’s work and business activity and expose them to increased risk of exploitation and abuse. As a result, girls and young women facing severe economic shocks are more likely to involve in high-risk work for their economic survival and family maintenance.


While preparing plans and taking decisions related to control of the COVID-19 outbreaks, the state governments must include special measures related to the issues related to women and girls about their health, economy and rights.

All pregnant women, including those suspected or confirmed with COVID-19 infections, should be provided with high-quality care before, during and after childbirth, including antenatal, postnatal, newborn, intrapartum as well as mental health care.

Among the responses to the control of outbreak there must be provisions to protect and support young women’s economic empowerment and recognise the additional burden of unpaid and domestic work on women and girls.

Quarantine measures should be accompanied by support for affected households. The state governments must include measures to address gender-based violence (GBV) and child protection in COVID-19 response and recovery plans and ensure that plans are gender and age responsive and multi-sectoral.

At the present juncture, the need of the hour is to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls. So we must try to fulfill the theme of the World Population Day 2020, that is, “Putting the breaks on COVID-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now.”

* Dr Salam Noren Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, Imphal College, Imphal
This article was webcasted on July 12 2020 .

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