New Delhi: World Population Day is celebrated on 11 July to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues worldwide. It was initiated in 1989 by the then-governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme.

It was the day of five billion world’s population on 11 July 1987, that led to the establishment of this annual event.

World Population day will run on the theme “Family Planning is a Human right” this year.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right.

The conference’s outcome document, known as the Teheran Proclamation, stated unequivocally: “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”

Almost on the verge of completing three decades now, the internationally celebrated event aims to spread awareness on issues such as overpopulation, underpopulation and birth control. The world population is currently pegged at around 7 billion and according to UN reports is growing at a fast pace, adding 83 million people every year.

India is currently ranked second with 1.3 billion people as the most populous country in the world, according to UN report 2017. The data was shared by the Ministry of Health on the occasion of World Population Day.

According to the UN report, China with 1.4 billion people and India with 1.3 billion people are the two most populous countries and contributing to 19% and 18 % of the global population respectively. The report predicted that India will surpass China around 2024 or roughly 7 years. As per the report,  around 214 million women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe and effective family planning methods.

In India, according to National Family Health Survey 2015-16 (NFHS-4) current use of family planning methods among married women (15-49 years) is 53.5%, and unmet need of family planning was 12.9%. (Unmet need for family planning refers to those women who are fecund and sexually active but not using any method of contraception though wishing to postpone the next birth –spacing or not wanting any more children -limiting).

Nine standards to uphold the human right to family planning: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recognized nine standards that must be met in every community, for every individual.

  • Non-discrimination: Family planning information and services cannot be restricted on the basis of race, sex, language, religion, political affiliation, national origin, age, economic status, place of residence, disability status, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Available:  Family planning commodities and services should be available to everyone.
  • Accessible:  Family planning information and services should be accessible to everyone.
  • Acceptable: Contraceptive services and information must be provided in a dignified manner, respecting both modern medical ethics and the cultures of those being provided services.
  • Good quality: Contraceptive services must be provided by skilled health personnel in a safe, sanitary environment.
  • Informed decision-making: Every person must be empowered to make reproductive choices with full autonomy, free of pressure, coercion or misrepresentation.
  • Privacy and confidentiality: All individuals must enjoy the right to privacy when seeking family planning information and services.
  • Participation: Countries have an obligation to ensure the active and informed participation of individuals in decisions that affect them, including health issues.
  • Accountability: Health systems, education systems, leaders and policymakers must be accountable to the people they serve in all efforts to realize the human right to family planning.

Promotion of family planning and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples is essential to securing the well-being of woman and child while supporting the health and development of communities.