Asia-Pacific Population Journal 20th Anniversary Special Issues (1986-2006)
Social Development Division (SDD)
(1) Population and development
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Asia-Pacific Population Journal 20th Anniversary Special Issues
- Reaching the MDGs: Why Population, Reproductive Health and Gender Matter (PDF 64 KB)
By Thoraya Ahmed Obaid
The 2005 World Summit was an important event for those working to realize the commitments made at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994. At the World Summit, leaders resolved to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015, promote gender equality and end discrimination against women – the pillars of the ICPD Programme of Action.
Yet the World Summit’s success does not mean the challenges to achieve the goals contained in the ICPD Programme of Action have ended. The ideological and conservative opposition remains.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), together with many Governments and development partners in the developing and industrialized world, firmly believes that no initiative to end poverty, whether focused at the national or household level, can ignore the importance of reproductive health, gender and population dynamics.
This paper brings attention to the centrality of women and young people as catalysts for development, and describes ways in which to address their needs and bring them to the forefront of development efforts. Among others, it also urges countries in South Asia to reap the benefits of this “window of opportunity” to fuel economic growth by making the necessary investments to promote health, education and employment opportunities, as well as improve gender equality.
- From Mexico to Cairo and Beyond: Twenty Years of Population Challenges and Development Goals (PDF 124 KB)
By Mercedes B. Concepcion
Since the convening of the World Population Conference in 1974, Governments have become increasingly concerned with the consequences of population trends, have been more inclined to view population as a legitimate area of government action and have formulated and implemented policies addressing the issue.
The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) moved population policy and programmes away from a focus on human numbers to that on human lives. The 20-year Programme of Action (PoA) adopted by 179 Governments built on the successes of the previous decades while addressing the needs of the twenty-first century. The PoA recommended a set of interdependent goals and objectives to be attained by 2015 involving universal access to comprehensive reproductive health services, including family planning and sexual health; reductions in infant, child and maternal mortality; universal access to basic education, especially for girls; and gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment. Many of the ICPD goals were incorporated into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted during the Millennium Summit held in September 2000. Many of the PoA goals are essential for meeting the MDGs to reduce widespread poverty, hunger, disease and gender inequality by the year 2015.
The progress made, and the constraints encountered, by countries in their efforts to implement specific actions of the PoA spelled out in this article are based on the 2003 Global Survey report completed by UNFPA The Global Survey results showed that many countries had taken action on internal and international migration, on population and the environment, and on ageing. They had also strengthened national capacities for collecting, processing, analysing and utilizing population data. Constraints mentioned included shortage of funds, too little trained or qualified staff, inefficient institutional capacity, deficient awareness and understanding of the issues, scarcity of data, inadequate coordination among institutions and ministries, religious opposition, and absence of political will.
- Important Issues in the Continuing Mortality Revolution in the Asian and Pacific Region (PDF 124 KB)
By John C. Caldwell and Bruce K. Caldwell
This paper concentrates on mortality decline over the last 20 years but also compares that performance with the preceding three decades. The treatment is mostly a macroscopic one, but there is also an examination of recent changes in the slums of Dhaka. There is an emphasis on poor mortality records where improvement should be sought. That includes potential dividends in the areas of gender imbalance, economic performance and educational advance. Former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) Asian countries need to restore important areas of their pre-existing health systems and to improve male health behaviour. South Asia should put more resources into the obstetric system in order to improve both maternal and infant mortality. A major effort is needed to improve health in urban slums by establishing health services - even in areas of illegal settlement. The conclusion is that advances against mortality in the Asian and Pacific region have been commendable over the last two decades, but further advances can be made. There is a need to find the best mix of public and private health initiatives, while not abandoning what the public sector does best.
- Age-Structure Transition and Development in Asia and the Pacific: Opportunities and Challenges (PDF 159 KB)
By K.S. Seetharam
During the second half of the twentieth century countries in Asia and the Pacific have experienced unparalleled declines in mortality and fertility. Consequently, the age structure of their populations is in rapid transition from “young” to “old”, with some countries are at different stages in this transition. Ageing is the final stage and inevitable consequence of this phenomenon.
The changing age structure of the population provides a “window of opportunity” from which to benefit. Given a favourable policy environment, arise in the proportion of the working age population, resulting from age structure transition, can contribute significantly to economic growth.
This paper examines patterns of age structure transition,by subregions and in selected countries of Asia and the Pacific and their implications for labour supply and ageing. It reviews the findings of various studies on the contribution of age structure transition to economic growth in East Asian Miracle economies, and the policies that helped those countries benefit from it. It also highlights the factors that have stymied economic growth in other subregions and countries.
As age structure transition is still underway in most countries of Asia and the Pacific, many countries are experiencing rapid increases in their working age population and declining dependency ratios, thus providing them with the opportunity to benefit from this window of opportunity. Accrual of this benefit is not automatic, however, policies to enhance human capital, enhance economic growth and create employment are critical. This strengthening will also help better manage the needs of an ageing population.
- Progress and Prospects in Reproductive Health in the Asian and Pacific Region (PDF 120 KB)
By Philip Guest
Progress on a range of reproductive health indicators can be documented for Asia and the Pacific in the period since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. Rates of contraceptive use have increased concurrent with improvements in access to a wider variety of contraceptive methods. Child mortality has decreased as has, to a lesser extent, maternal morbidity. Issues of sexual health are being addressed more vigorously and adolescent sexual and reproductive health is now on most national agendas. There is, however, no room for complacency. While international attention is focused on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is clear that further improvement of reproductive health programmes is essential for reaching the targets of the MDGs. Reproductive health programmes in the Asian and Pacific region need to improve the quality of care, popularize and support reproductive and sexual health rights, assist women and men communicate with each other about their reproductive and sexual health needs, and more actively serve the needs of young people. More effective reproductive health programmes based on a respect for reproductive health rights will help alleviate poverty, promote gender equity, improve maternal and child health, and reduce the burden of HIV.