July 14, 2008

Unchecked, Nepal’s Population to Double in 31 Years

Unchecked, Nepal's population to double in 31 years

KATHMANDU, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Left unchecked, the population of Nepal will double in 31 years, local newspaper The Rising Nepal reported on Saturday.

Speaking at a program to mark the World Population Day on Friday in Nepali capital Kathmandu, joint secretary at the Ministry for Health and Population Binod Gyawali said that the population of Nepal would double after 31 years, if the present trend of population growth continues to take place.

Nepali government plans to reduce the total fertility rate to 2. 1 by the end of the Twelfth Plan in 2017 and bring a balance between population growth and economic development in Nepal.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative Ugochi Daniel said that hundreds of millions of women, men and young people do not have access to contraceptives.

In Nepal, there is constant increase in the use of family planning methods, from 26 percent in 1996 to 44 percent in 2006, a 70 percent increase over the decade. Maternal mortality has been put at 281 per 100,000 live births (18 percent of all deaths among women).

However, it is estimated that one in every five women, for different reasons, is prevented from using contraceptives despite being aware of family planning methods and despite her wish to use them. In Nepal, the unmet need for family planning methods is estimated to be 22 percent, according to the report.

"Family planning is essential to fight poverty. Yet, the world is failing to meet the needs of the poorest. Investing in family planning is one of the most cost-effective ways for poor countries to make progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals," Ugochi Daniel said.

Young people are particularly vulnerable and in need of services.In Nepal, about 24 percent of the population are adolescents. Every year, millions of young people become sexually active. However, many have no access to counseling, information and contraceptives. Maternal morbidity and mortality of adolescent mothers is higher than of any other age group.

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