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‘Fresh Efforts’ Needed To Understand, Deliver Family Planning In Order To Curb Birth Rates In Developing Countries

In this Financial Times opinion piece, journalist Andrew Jack examines the challenges of family planning in some poorer countries, where public health programs “risk adding to population pressures and inadvertently setting back development,” writing, “In a number of countries, notably in central and western Africa, health programs have contributed to cutting infant mortality rates, but birth rates have continued to remain stubbornly high. The unintended consequence is a fast-growing population that adds further pressure on poor families and fragile environments.”

Jack cites a number of experts who discuss factors influencing birth rates, such as “inadequate measures to reduce infant mortality further, including through vaccination,” and concludes that “for now, continued high birth rates in some regions defy the ‘demographic transition,’ suggesting a need for fresh efforts. That means more work on how to understand and deliver family planning, as well as other measures such as female education, one of the most powerful contraceptives and tools for economic development alike. Until then, some countries risk running to stand still” (11/23).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.