over population disability and health
Over a billion people, about 15% of the world’s population have some form of
disability, 110 million and 190 million people have significant difficulties in
Rates of disability are increasing due to population ageing and increases in
chronic health conditions, among other causes.
People with disabilities have less access to health care services and therefore
experience unmet health care needs.
our today’s Health Matters edition, we continue with Dr Hassan Azadeh, our
health adviser who is also a senior lecturer at the University of The Gambia
focusing on people with impairment (weaken in strength), disabilities and
handicap living in a society in a poor health, hopelessness and with little
chance of survival and long life.
world’s population will soon reach a level where there will not be enough
resources to sustain life as we know it. Growth must be checked to avoid this
catastrophe. Many environmental, social, and economic problems either stem from
or are increased in magnitude by the overpopulation problem. With an
exponentially increasing population, the problems created by overpopulation
grow correspondingly. To ensure population stability not only in the
increasingly wealthy third-world areas, but also in the industrialized areas,
countries and individuals must work together to achieve zero population growth.
earth does not contain enough resources to indefinitely sustain the current
enormous population growth. For instance, there is a limited area of arable
land and living space. China, home to 1.2 billion people or 1/5 the world’s
population, is an excellent example of the kinds of problems that arise in an
increasingly crowded society. Trying to increase the standard of living of its
people, China has industrialized and the economy has grown (Hanson). This
increase in wealth has increased the demand for food in China.
demand is so great that China went from exporting 8 million tons of grain in
1992 to becoming a net importer of 16 million tons of grain in 1994 (China News
Digest). This causes a world-wide grain shortage which raises prices, which in
turn puts food out of reach of even more people.
many areas, there is simply not enough food to feed the growing populations.
Each day 40,000 children die from malnutrition and its related diseases. 150
million children in the world suffer from poor health due to food shortages.
resource, which cannot keep up with an increasing population, is water. The
supply of fresh water is limited. The recent California drought exemplifies
this problem. Conflicts ensue between farmers, municipalities,
environmentalists, and others over water rights. Recently, environmentalists
battled with Los Angeles over the diversion of water from Mono Lake to the LA
basin. The Mono Lake incident and the aqueduct fights highlight some of the
conflicts that arise over water. Creating fresh water can be expensive.
swelling population may have to turn to desalinization for their clean water.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is the only country for which this process has had any
success. However, Saudi Arabia does not require the vast amounts of
agricultural water that California and other areas need. Another possible
solution to the fresh water shortage is towing icebergs from the polar caps.
This is just too costly for many areas.
addition to depleting resources, overpopulation increases environmental
problems. Pollution is an environmental problem whose magnitude is increased by
overpopulation. As more people drive more cars, use more electricity, throw
away more trash, and cut down more trees, the environmental problems we
experience are greatly increased.
earth could easily sustain a small population of highly polluting people. But
as more people such as us pollute, massive problems occur. Pollution is
magnified in developing nations. As those nations with larger growing
populations become richer, their pollution increases with their wealth.
Developing nations often promote industries that pollute to compete
economically. These industries are less tightly regulated in order to stimulate
causing the environmental strains on the earth, overpopulation causes a large
number of the social problems in today’s society. One example of this is
described in the recent study by Ohio State University showing that children
whose family sizes were larger did worse in school. “The research, to be
published in October’s American Sociological Review, found that as family size
increases, parents talk less to each child about school, have lower education
expectations, save less for college and have fewer educational materials
individual’s political power is reduced with increased population. As the
population increases, each representative in the US and state congresses (as
well as senators) represents a wider segment of the population. This problem
was initially addressed by increasing the number of representatives. However,
when the number of US representatives reached 435, the sheer numbers became
unimaginable and led to a cap on the number of representatives. In Lincoln’s
time, there were 185,000 residents in a congressional district. Today, there
are about 600,000 people in each district (Oberlin).
only alternative would be increasing the number of representatives, however
this would only decrease congresses’ efficiency.
funding per capita is also reduced when the population grows. Again, California
provides an excellent example. In 1990 there were 5.7 million children enrolled
in California’s K-12 schools, while there will be 7.9 million in 2000. “Our
secondary school population is growing by 177,000 a year. The Dept. of
Education projects that 35,333 new classrooms, or approx. 1,399 K-12 schools
will be needed by the year 2000.
is almost a school a day. California already has some of the largest class
sizes in the nation (Phillips).” With this growth in school needs, the state
cannot meet the budget requirements. This has significantly contributed toward
the state’s deficit, as well as reduced the quality of education.
the 1980’s, there was a 10% population density increase in the US. This led to
a 20% decrease in housing affordability. The supply has not kept up with the
demand for housing, which caused the real estate boom. This causes continually
growing urban communities such as Los Angeles, which has experienced problems
due to its sheer massiveness (Johnson).
traffic problems we face daily are another result of overpopulation. Just in
California, 300,000 hours are wasted in traffic congestion each year at an
estimated annual cost of over 892 million dollars. In addition, these idling
motors add to the pollution problem (Oberlin).
people feel that efforts to stop the rising population are unnecessary. They
feel the population is under control and, in effect, the population bomb has
fizzled. Ben Wattenberg, in
Birth Dearth cites that a shrinking population will put developed nations at a
severe disadvantage. It will cause military, economic, politic, and cultural
weaknesses in relation to other countries.
against population controls cite statistics in their favour. According to the
1994 US Census, the fertility rate of 59 countries is below 2.1 births per
female which is the number of children per family needed to maintain the
population. China is down to 1.8, and Spain is down to). These people also
claim Africa is experiencing shortages of labourers, even though they reject
technology because of the reduced labour it requires.
control advocates feel that the resource problems may not be as bad as earlier
1960, the world’s food supply per capita has increased 27% and the food
production in developing nation has increased 20%. The world’s oil reserves
have increased from 100 billion cubic meters in 1980 to 158 billion cubic
meters in 1993. Only 50% of the world’s arable land is used. Grain production
increased 2.1% in the 80’s, well above the 1.4% necessary to feed the
increasing population. According to the UN, the world’s population may
stabilize at 7.5 billion in 2015.
opponents to population stabilization cite statistics in their favour, the
overwhelming majority of statistics point toward a severe problem. One in four
births in the developing world outside China is unwanted. It took 123 years,
from 1804 to 1927 for the world to produce its second billion people, yet it
took just thirteen years, from 1974 to 1987, to produce the fifth billion (UN
are three more people in the United States every second with nine births and
three deaths every two seconds (Universal Almanac, 173). In 1960 Europe was the
most densely populated continent. By 1991 Asia surpassed Europe’s denseness
with 176 persons per square mile while Europe only had 168 persons per square
mile. Americans can barely feel this squeeze with only 43 persons per square
mile (“Population,”). If the population continues to grow at current rates with
no further decline (a highly unlikely scenario), there will be 694 billion
people on the Earth by 2150.
Catholic Church represents major religious opposition to controlled population.
The Church’s official stand is against any birth control whatsoever. They
believe God should plan families. The problem includes Catholics obeying John
Paul II’s Human Vitae, the church using its political power in stopping
abortion and birth control advances, and protesting the discussion of family
planning at world forums such as the UN Women’s conferences (Ehrlich, 22).
Population Growth is the foremost American activist organization for population
control. They cite several solutions for the population problem including
family planning services, international awareness, population education,
improving women’s status, and economic incentives. Many of these solutions have
been implemented in various countries with success.
are easy solutions with few adverse side-effects.
Chinese government has been able to control population by creating economic
incentives for families with less than two children. With 1/5 of the world’s
population and only 7% of the land, population checks were badly needed.
Population control was achieved using education, government propaganda, and
community pressures. For instance, a couple promising to have only one child
receives a one-time reward of money and rice. If that child does not live to
maturity, the couple is allowed another. The child will receive a private plot
of 70 square meters of land, compared to 50 for a child in a larger family.
techniques could be implemented in the United States by slowly removing the tax
write-off for more than 2 children. Families will not experience extreme
economic hardship if the decline were gradual enough. Moreover, government
revenue could increase. An example of such a solution would be amending the
current US H.R. 6, a middle-class tax cutting bill, to limit the $500-per-child
tax credit to two children.
control and family planning is another excellent way of slowing the surging
population growth. Japan is a crowded nation the size of California with a
population equal to about half the US population. Population controls were
badly needed. Condoms have proven to be an extremely successful way of slowing
the growth. With dedicated stores, such as Condo mania, and aggressive
advertising, condom usage reached 547 million in 1991. This is almost as much
as the 561 million the US used with twice the population.
factor attributing to the decrease in population growth in Japan is the
stressful working conditions. Men concentrate heavily on work and less on
recreational activities. Because of the resulting high stress levels, overall
sexual activity has declined and the sperm count with it. These factors,
coupled with the high condom usage, have slowed Japanese population growth. The
slowed growth has resulted in a temporary aging of the population, which
creates minor problems, but is unavoidable in any fix to population growth.
growth is slowed as women’s rights are increased. This is evident in developed
nations where fewer births occur as the woman’s role in society changes.
Elevating women out of their lower-class status in many nations will greatly
aid progress. As women gain economic, political and reproductive power in
today’s industrialized nations, birth rates drop dramatically and now most of
Western Europe is at or below replacement level.
all the people of the world must be made aware of the situation. The problem is
not popularized in the media as much as other problems which stem from
overpopulation such as the environment, AIDS, and lung cancer. Children and
adults are well informed on how to help the environment, how to avoid AIDS, and
that smoking is bad for their health. But they are not well informed about all
of the problems of overpopulation.
information needs to be more widespread than it currently is. This can be
reasonably achieved with information in TV segments and in science and social
less developed countries face the biggest problems, solutions also need to be
implemented here in the US. In California, the fertility rate grew from 1.947
in 1982 to 2.480 in 1989. Educating the public will ease California’s
steps have been made in fighting the problem. The first step, recognizing the
problem, was reached by Thomas Malthus with An Essay on the Principle of
Population in 1798. Malthus pointed out that population tends to grow at an
exponential rate while the food production grows at a geometric rate. Thus
population growth must be checked. He mentioned “positive checks” such as war,
famine, and disease, and “preventative checks” such as celibacy and
1968 Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb. They were the
first to popularize how serious the problem had become. While incorrectly
predicting short term large-scale famine and plague, the book awakened the
world to the upcoming problems.
the United Nations Population Fund is collecting information on the problem.
Events such as the UN Women’s conference in support of family planning and
birth control have raised the status of women, an important step in reducing
an impending crisis looming over the horizon, the afore outlined steps must be
followed to ease the population problem and the many other problems which are
directly related to it.
people are educated to the benefits of limiting family size, they respond with
lower birth rates. Education, coupled with economic pressure, will end the
overpopulation problem and ease many of the other problems faced by today’s
over population disability and health
is extremely diverse. While some health conditions associated with disability
result in poor health and extensive health care needs, others do not. However
all people with disabilities have the same general health care needs as
everyone else, and therefore need access to mainstream health care services.
25 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
reinforces the right of persons with disabilities to attain the highest
standard of health care, without discrimination.
further information Government Agency for population, send e mail to
email@example.com, or send text to 002207774469/37774469.
Dr Azadeh Senior Lecturer at the University of the Gambia, Senior Physician,
Senior Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Clinical Director at
Medicare Health Service.