Initiating, sponsoring, supporting and facilitating activities in family planning and related population, and primary health care programmes and other projects by research, training, consultancy and publications. Promoting quality of care in family planning. Shaping world opinion through accurate and easily understood messages about population, contraception and reproductive health issues. Mobilization of resources for family planning schemes and programmes. Advocating individual responsibility in reproduction. Promoting sustainable development and global stewardship through population control.
The world's population is growing by 1,000 million a decade at current rates. Such rapid population growth is leading to unsustainable needs and consumption of resources, social unrest, and environmental degradation. In order to overcome these global crises, population growth must be brought down to within the Earth's carrying capacity. Population growth is determined by many socio-economic, ideological and cultural factors. In particular, more children are born into families which cannot survive without relying on the income from children. Thus, a large family is seen and required as a living pension. Access to and information on family planning services for both men and women can successfully reduce population growth rates. Despite opposition out of poverty and tradition, surveys have shown that family planning is widely desired in lower-income countries.
Wherever realistic family planning services have been made available, fertility has declined. This has helped reduce the historical average of 6 children per family (in virtually all societies) to about 3.8 in the developing world. For instance, in South Korea, family size fell from 6.0 children to 1.7. In Bangladesh, with access to fertility regulation choices, family size has fallen from 6.2 to 3.4 even though people are poor and uneducated, and infant mortality remains high.
In 1990, some 381 million couples (51%) in lower-income countries used a family planning method. Access by fertile couples to contraception has grown from under 10% three decades ago to more than 55% currently, in the developing world. To achieve fertility rates consistent with the UN medium population projection of 64,000 million by the year 2000, an additional 186 million couples (a total of 567 million or 59%) must be using contraception by the end of the decade. There is desire for family planning services. It is estimated that 50 to 80% of married women wish to space or limit their childbearing. If all women who said they wanted no more children were able to stop childbearing, the number of births would be roughly reduced by one third in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Maternal mortality could be halved, and abortions, infanticide and abandoning children significantly reduced. Family planning alone could save the lives of 200,000 women and 5 million children by helping couples to space their children and avoid high-risk pregnancies.
US$4,500 million per year are spent on family planning services in the lower-income countries, $3,500 million coming from the countries themselves and $700 million from Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries (or only 1.3% of OECD development assistance). However, only one percent of the funds of overseas development agencies are devoted to population activities.
In the USA, despite widespread public support for family planning (in 1995, 64 percent of American women, ages 15 to 44, used contraception, up from 56 percent in 1982) a small but powerful segment of the US Congress, backed by religious lobbies, anti-abortionists and others, has sidetracked America's role in helping stem the tide of world population growth. A University of Maryland survey shows that 74 percent of Americans support assistance for international family planning. But in 1996, Congress actually cut foreign population assistance 35 percent and then delayed and restricted release of the money. As a result, a variety of groups have stepped up their efforts to promote reproductive health issues. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, for one, recently announced its "Responsible Choices Action Agenda," to strengthen its legislative and grassroots campaigns. Others, such as Negative Population Growth, are pursuing campaigns that encourage people to have no more than two children.
If people don't want large families, then our efforts should really be to provide services to them so that they are able to limit the size of their families.
The intellectual justification for spending billions on international family-planning programmes is shaky – it tacitly depends on the notion that couples in the Third World are somehow too stupid to know that having lots of babies is bad.