JIS News

KINGSTON — Jamaica will join the rest of the world in celebrating the world’s population reaching 7 billion on Monday, October 31.

When the global population crosses the threshold then, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), it is expected that the seven billionth child will be a girl born in the Utter Pradesh region of India.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) will collaborate to commemorate the milestone. As part of efforts to heighten awareness about the event and its importance to planning and development, the State of the World Population document entitled ‘People and Possibilities in a World at 7 billion’, will be launched at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston on October 31 at 2 p.m.

In an interview with JIS News, Director of the UNFPA’s Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean, Geeta Sethi, said the report looks at issues relevant to population and development.

“The number 7 billion seems very big, but I think what this report highlights is that the 7 billion is a result of our achievements, but it also presents paradoxes and there are challenges as well as possibilities,” she said.

She pointed out that one reason for the population reaching this size is some of the things that have been done right, along the way.

“For example, life expectancy has increased dramatically; there is far less infant mortality,” she noted.

She also stated that it is clear where women have been educated they can make decisions regarding reproduction.

“They choose to have fewer children, and so the average number of children per women has dropped from six in the 1950s to only 2.5 now,” she explained.

Ms. Sethi noted that while women are having fewer children, there is still a paradox of more people living longer.

The document is significant, as a world at 7 billion has implications for sustainability, urbanization, ageing, youth empowerment, access to health services and poverty reduction.

Some of the critical issues that will be addressed include: Ageing: An Un-Precedented Challenge; Reproductive Health and Rights; Women and Girls, Empowerment and Progress; and Young People and the Future.

Providing details on the day’s activities, Advocacy and Communications Advisor at the UNFPA Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean, Althea Buchanan, said that, prior to the launch, booths will be set-up by various entities from 10 a.m.

Some of the entities involve include the National Family Planning Board, Registrar General Department (RGD), Children First, UNFPA and the PIOJ.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Eva Lewis-Fuller, will give the main address and will officially launch the report. Ms. Sethi will present the findings, while Senior Medical Officer at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital, Dr. Rudolph Stevens, will bring remarks.

Recording artiste, Abijah, and his daughter who was recognized during the celebration of “six billion baby born”, will also be present. Other representatives from the UNFPA, the Diplomatic Corps, Victoria Jubilee Hospital, Government and non-Government organizations will also attend. In a symbolic gesture, the mother of the first baby born on the day will be recognized and presented with a gift basket.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is an international development agency promoting the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.


By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter

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