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ZPG BACKGROUNDER. 1991 Oct; 1-4.During the 1990's 1.5 billion children will be born, more than in any other decade. 10% of them will not reach their 5th birthday. The causes of these deaths are contaminated drinking water, poor sanitation, common diseases, environmental pollution, and malnutrition. None of these are mysterious problems; the solution is only a matter of will. Even the US which ranks 6th in per capita gross national products suffers from these problems as it does not even make the top 10 in any significant measure of child welfare. The US ranks 18th in child mortality rates and 21st in < 5 mortality rates. In the US, 101 cities, containing 50% of the US population, have failed to meet Environmental Protection Agency standards for ground level ozone. Child labor is also an international problem that exists in the US as well. The average fine for a child labor violation is $170. In cases involving permanent injury or death to a child the average fine is only $750. Clearly even the US does not place a very high value on children. In every nation, including the US, family size is a very accurate predictor of child poverty, mortality, disease, and abuse. The more children there are in a family the more likely they are to be poor, get sick, be physically abused, or die. Families with 5 or more children are 3 times more likely to be poor than families with only 2 children. Child survival programs alone are hot as successful as a combined program of child survival and family planning. Thus family planning programs should be in place in every country that is currently having trouble keeping its children healthy, well fed, and prosperous. If every tax payer in the industrialized world contributed 1 penny a day, or US3.65 annually, to family planni ng assistance, there would be enough resources to ensure that all the children of the world would be wanted and cared for properly.
NEW AFRICAN. 1991 Sep; (288):43-4.This article, which explains the severe need for family planning in Africa, serves as an introductory piece to a supplement dealing the problems faced by the medical community in dealing with the health of families in the continent. The articles in the supplement are written by medical staff workers of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, an agency of the German government designed to assist in the planning and execution of health development projects. As the article explains, Africa has the highest maternal mortality in the world, ranging anywhere from 400/100,000 live births to 1000/100,000 live births. The risk is greatest among very young or very old women. Maternal mortality rate among women aged 15-19 is twice that of women 20-24. And for girls under 15, the risk is 5x to 7x greater. The risk is also very high among women over 35. Furthermore, a high frequency of birth endangers the health of the mother and infant. Unwanted pregnancies often result in illegal abortions, which can cost the life of the mother. Many couples in Africa say that they would like to limit family size to 2 or 3 children. Also, knowledge of modern contraceptive methods runs as high as 80-90%. Yet most couples do not have access to family planning services, and in the instances when they do have access, services are often ill-equipped to handle the demand. In order to address these concerns, GTZ has supported family planning programs throughout Africa.