World Population Day: 7 billion reasons to act

World Population Day: 7 billion reasons to act

© UNFPA/Nepal

11/07/2012 - Just 25 years ago, on 11 July 1987, was the Day of Five Billion. We are now over 7 billion living on the planet. World Population Day is an occasion to focus on the urgency and importance on population issues.

Every year the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) selects a different theme to rally around: this year, World Population Day will focus on reproductive health. Reproductive health problems remain the leading cause of ill health and death for women of childbearing age worldwide. Nearly 800 women die every day in the process of giving life.

The European Commission Department of Humanitarian aid and Civil protection (ECHO) believes reproductive health to be essential: every childbirth should be safe both for the mother and for her child.

Last year in Nepal, the European Commission supported an UNFPA project on reproductive health. The project was especially designed for the marginalized population in the Far Western region of Nepal, who had little access to health. The project's objective was to reach those remote districts with the help of the mobile health camps.

About 20,000 women of reproductive age, men and adolescents received assistance. About 300 of these women underwent uterine prolapse surgery. Uterine prolapse is a debilitating condition that occurs when a woman's uterus falls out of her body. It can result from prolonged labour, too early or too closely-spaced pregnancies, improper delivery techniques and resuming work too soon after childbirth. All of these conditions are common in rural Nepal; uterine prolapse affects some 600,000 Nepalese women. 
It is often the cause of a cycle of suffering, because women are often too poor or too ashamed to tell anybody. Because women with prolapse suffer from incontinence and frequent infections, they are likely to be ostracized and divorced. Some live with a fallen uterus for the rest of their lives, when uterine prolapse is preventable and easily curable.

A simple surgery can change a woman's life. ECHO supports the organization of surgical camps and training of local health staff in Nepal. 600 care providers (health workers, social workers and traditional healers) received training for skills development: through hands-on training local health officials learned to feel more comfortable with diagnosing reproductive health care conditions, including sexually transmitted infections and HIV-AIDS.

Related information