US Urged to Help Population Control
TWO months before receiving his party's nomination for president, then-Gov. Bill Clinton declared his belief that the fate of the world will be determined by its upwardly spiraling population growth. "The protection of the environment - as well as the daunting challenges of development, human rights, refugees, and world health - are all related to the vital issue of global population," he stated. On an earlier occasion he said: "A Clinton administration will restore United States funding for the UN's pop ulation stabilization efforts and allow aid to Planned Parenthood."
Congress, in the fiscal 1994 budget, has an opportunity to help Mr. Clinton fulfill his promise to restore US leadership in this crucial field by providing sufficient funding of international population programs. The US now provides $350 million for population assistance in the form of bilateral programs and support to private organizations. However, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) has requests for population assistance that exceed its budget by some $500 million.
In testimony before Congress recently, I recommended appropriation of $700 million for international population assistance, 16 percent of it going to UNFPA. The US cut off all funding to UNFPA in 1985.
The Population Institute's recommendation is consistent with the recommendations of the International Forum on Population in Amsterdam. The Forum was comprised of experts from 79 countries, including US government representatives. It concluded that a high priority must be given to leveling off of world population at the UN medium projection for population stabilization - 11 billion people.
The objective will be reached if voluntary family planning users can be increased from the current 381 million to 567 million by the end of the century. The Amsterdam conference calculated the price tag for this at $9 billion, double the amount presently spent worldwide on family planning. If, in the remaining years of this century, family planning can be provided to the approximately 500 million couples who need and want such services, population can be stabilized at 8 billion rather than 11 billion. Wi th the focus shifted away from the cold war and the arms race, the US can be instrumental in preparing the world so that future generations will not have to deal with such crises as dwindling resources and environmental hazards.
BECAUSE pharmaceutical companies have virtually ceased contraceptive research, Congress should designate a portion of the international family planning budget to improving current modern family planning methods and developing new ones. The US government should lead the effort to ensure that existing contraceptives are more efficient, effective, and safe, and to develop a greater variety of family planning methods. The more methods available, the greater the likelihood of acceptance.
Congress should also seriously consider transferring oversight and liaison responsibility for UNFPA from the Agency for International Development (AID) to the Department of State, which handles these responsibilities for all other international organizations.
Perhaps the most critical global population challenge is elevating the status of women. It should be noted that women do two-thirds of the world's work, yet earn only one-tenth of the world's income and own less than 1 percent of its property. Several studies from developing countries have shown that where no females are enrolled in secondary schools, the average woman has seven children.
However, in regions where 40 percent of all women have had a secondary education, women average only three children. Congress should send a strong message for international family planning agencies to include women in the design, planning, and implementation of programs directed at their improved health.