A WORLD Population Day event was held yesterday at the Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw, with Vice President U Myint Swe delivering the opening speech.
Attending the event were Union Ministers Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, Lt-Gen Ye Aung, Dr. Pe Myint, Thura U Aung Ko, U Thein Swe and Dr. Myo Thein Gyi, Union Civil Service Board Chairman Dr. Win Thein, Deputy Ministers, foreign ambassadors and diplomats to Myanmar, department heads, nurses and midwives, students, representatives from UN agencies, INGOs and NGOs, and other invited guests. World Population Day was established in 1989 by the Governing Council of the UN Development Programme to mark the global population reaching 5 billion inhabitants on 11 July 1987, said the Vice President. World Population Day events soon took place annually around the world beginning in 1990 to raise awareness of overpopulation. The theme for this year is “Family Planning is a Human Right.” Myanmar, a UN member country, celebrates this significant event every year. Family planning reinforces people’s rights to determine the number and spacing of their children and plan the period for contraception. Effective family planning can reduce maternal mortality rates by 40 per cent and under-five mortality rates by 21 per cent. According to the 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census, Myanmar has the highest maternal mortality rate in Southeast Asia with 282 mothers dying for every 100,000-child born. The census also shows 2,700 mothers on average die in pregnancy or during labour every year, with 12 per cent of deaths due to abortion or miscarriages, becoming the third highest cause of death. Young women between the ages of 15 and 19 are the most susceptible to abortions and miscarriages. The Vice President said it is important to provide mother and child protection and awareness raising workshops to reduce these mortality rates. He added that family planning is also directly related to this and should be developed and accessible by everyone. The UN reports the global population has reached 7.6 billion and will increase by 1 billion in 2030 and 4 billion in 2100. Developing countries have the highest birthrates and this is related to poverty. There are many modern approaches to reducing population growth and family planning is one of the most effective ones if done correctly, said the Vice President. The 2015 Demographic and Health Survey shows that 52 per cent of married women use family planning methods and from among that number 51 per cent use modern family planning methods, while 1 per cent use traditional methods. However, the survey also indicates 16 per cent of women of childbearing age do not have access to modern family planning methods, 5 per cent of married women want a certain interval between their pregnancies, and 11 per cent wish to use pregnancy prevention methods. The Vice President said family planning can go a long way in supporting socio-economic development, reducing mortality rates of mothers and children, allow more women to enter the workforce and thus reduce poverty, ensure children receive adequate nutrition, ensure enough learning institutions are available for all children to receive education, and reduce spending on mother and child protection services. The Ministry of Health and Sports is collaborating with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and mother and child protection organizations to promote family planning operations, distribute contraceptives and birth control pills, and provide educational workshops, said the Vice President.
Next, Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe explained facts related to the theme “Family Planning is a Human Right”. This was followed by an explanation on World Population Day by UNFPA Acting Representative to Myanmar Ms. Kaori Ishikawa. Afterwards, a video on family planning and a short animation on this year’s World Population theme were played to the audience. After the ceremony, attendees viewed the World Population Day exhibits on display.