Abandoned Infants in PakistanAt just over a month old, Fatima was given away on live television. Fatima is just one of many children orphaned in Pakistan after being abandoned in trashcans and dirty alleyways. Placed in piles of rubbish, these infants are dying by the hundreds every year. On his show, “Amaan Ramzan,” Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain famously gives away cars and other luxury items to families in need. However, the show made world news after giving Fatima and another baby girl to a family who are unable to have children. As he explains, “These children are not a part of garbage, are not a part of trash, so we took these children from the garbage, from the trash and delivered them to the needy people, the needy parents.” Fatima’s new mother, Tanzeem Ud Din, said that she hopes the show will help encourage others to adopt children in need.

While the cause of the trend to abandon children remains unknown, many have their theories. One father who adopted two of these afflicted children and wishes to remain unnamed said, “it could be people not wanting children, women on their own or a couple that did not go through with an abortion.” He says religious belief plays a great roll in this. Many perish in the litter before they can be rescued. The lucky ones make it to orphanages dedicated to helping abandoned children. The father described his visit to the orphanage he adopted from sites of children with fear on their faces, crying because they had been dropped off two days ago when their mother died and their father left to remarry. Many of the children here live without a birth certificate or any paperwork for identification.

While the situation is horrific, many are working on solutions that will help save these children’s lives.

  1. Improvements to legislation: According to Director of the Imkaan Welfare Organization, Tahera Hasan, “Solutions don’t lie with philanthropic institutions and they never will. We are literally a drop in the ocean as far as the larger landscape is concerned.” In 2016, the Upper House of Parliament passed its first-ever bill to help abandoned children. Un-attended Orphans Rehabilitation and Welfare Act was written to protect the rights of orphaned children and ensure housing, education and healthcare.
  2. Decreasing poverty rates throughout Pakistan: According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015–2016, 39 percent of the population lives in poverty. In contrast, the country has a total fertility rate of 2.55, according to the CIA Factbook, putting it at number 76 for world fertility rates. As a comparison, the United States is 142 on this list. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms says poverty reduction is one of the main objectives of Pakistan’s Vision 2025.
  3. Improving adoption services: According to Hasan, “There is no formal structure for adoption in place here, it is not recognized by the state.” Hansan is dedicated to the support of families adopting in Pakistan with the Imkaan Welfare Organization. Adoption remains mainly unregulated in Pakistan, with no paperwork for these children.

Social worker Ramzan Chippa said, “Parents who are adopting babies want healthy babies.” However, many orphaned children are described as severely mentally ill, one father even noticing a boy tied up in his orphanage to prevent him from taking bites out of his own arm. As a result, organizations such as Imkaan Welfare Organization are necessary to help these children become adoptable and find homes to be placed in.

The unnamed adoptive father referred to the child crisis in Pakistan as “unfinished business.” For countless children abandoned in dumpsters and litter, that is what their life is. Until Pakistan can adequately care for the thousands of unwanted children born every year, their existence will seem unfinished as they are homeless, purposeless and without a family.

Maura Byrne
Photo: Flickr

OVERPOPULATION IN UGANDA

Overpopulation is often one of the major causes of poverty. A lack of educational resources along with high death rates often go hand in hand with higher birth rates, resulting in large booms in population growth. The United Nations predicted that the poorest countries in the world are the biggest contributors to population growth. Uganda is one of the poorest developing countries in the world. There are many problems associated with overpopulation In Uganda.

High Fertility Rates

The poorest developing countries are usually the ones with the highest fertility rates and the ones with the least amount of resources to support their population growth. It has been proven that fertility rates in African nations are higher than in Western nations. One of the problems is that more developed nations are the ones that consume most of the resources, leaving the least possible amount to support the populations in African nations.

In addition to this, the lack of sexual education and family planning is a major cause of overpopulation in this region. Only 20 percent of Uganda’s women have access to contraception. Women in Uganda have an average of 7 children, which is higher the African average of 5.1 but more than double that of the global average of 2.7. Ugandan government’s lack of responsibility in improving family planning is a major reason for the country’s exponential population growth.

Population Increases

Presently there are 27.7 million people living in Uganda. By 2025, this number is estimated to double to 56 million people, making Uganda the nation with the world’s biggest population growth (at a rate of 3.3 percent). This kind of growth definitely continues to make resources more scarce in this region of the world. With already 19.5 percent of Uganda’s population living in poverty, efforts to decrease poverty rates will fail unless measures are taken.

As much as 78 percent of the population in Uganda are under the age of 30. Experts say that such big population will be a burden to the economy unless it is transformed into a working force. One major reason for the vast increase in the youth population was a need for family security, often to help with labor. There is minimal industrialization in many developing countries, so people have kids in order to have more help on the farm.

Unemployment and Overpopulation

Currently, 83 percent of young people have no formal employment. This is partly due to low economic growth, slow labor markets, high population growth rates, the rigid education system, rural-urban migration and limited access to capital. This boom in population growth is bound to put pressure on the economy by straining resources if the high birth rates are not controlled.

The major problem of Uganda’s young population is an increasing dependency burden at the household level with a related increase in demand for social services like health and education, which are not growing at the same pace as its population.  For example, classrooms in public schools are overcrowded due to growth in school populations. One cause for the growth in the population has been an increase in unwanted births, leading back to the idea that family planning is an essential part of reducing overpopulation in Uganda.

Solutions to Overpopulation in Uganda

There are many possible solutions to overcoming the overpopulation crisis in Uganda. Experts highlight the need for a long-term plan that focuses on the role of the family, the government, the private sector and society in helping young people to become productive. By reducing the problems with overpopulation in Uganda, the economy will benefit through taxes and more sustained production of goods and services.

Family planning services would reduce fertility levels and increase the proportion of employed adults to young dependents.  Furthermore, promoting family planning by educating men and women about contraception will play a key role in reducing fertility rates. A reduction in “fertility was achieved in the West over the course of a century of female education, national family planning services and the introduction of job opportunities for women.” Therefore, it is important to empower women by giving them access to reproductive health services as well as better economic options. The United Nations aims to tackle this issue by running microcredit projects to turn young women into advocates for reproductive health.

Another solution is government incentives. Governments must promote responsible parenthood and limit subsidies to the first two children unless the family is living in poverty. This can also be accomplished by promoting child spacing and having fewer children. In certain urban regions of the country, there are ads showing happy couples with just one or two children.

Cutting exponential population growth will give Uganda’s natural resources a higher chance of supporting the human burden. Government intervention through family planning by educating people on contraception methods and empowering women by enhancing female education are important steps towards reducing problems associated with overpopulation in Uganda and decreasing poverty.

Mayra Vega

Photo: Google

Fertility Rates in Developing Countries
Reducing fertility rates in developing countries is critical for ending global poverty. Common methods of doing so include education, contraception and women’s empowerment. However, another important factor affecting fertility rates is child survival.

There are many biological and behavioral factors that affect women and families when children die early. Physiologically, the early death of an infant triggers the resumption in ovulation, leaving the mother at early risk of conceiving again. Additionally, parents who lose children early are more likely to attempt to replace lost children or have extra children as insurance or compensation.

To fight high fertility rates in developing countries and around the world, it is important to understand the rates, causes and prevention efforts of stillbirths and under-five mortality.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a stillbirth as “a baby born with no signs of life at or after 28 weeks’ gestation.” There are an estimated 2.6 million stillbirths per year across the globe, which equates to more than 7,178 occurring daily.

The majority of stillbirths happen in developing countries with little or no access to skilled health professionals during pregnancy and labor. The WHO estimates that of the 2.6 million yearly stillbirths, 90 percent occur in low and middle-income countries, 75 percent occur in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and 60 percent occur in rural areas of those Asian and African regions.

Stillbirths are caused by child birth complications, post-term pregnancy, maternal infections during pregnancy (such as malaria, syphilis and HIV), maternal disorders (such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes), fetal growth restrictions and congenital abnormalities.

Most stillbirths can be prevented with improved access to maternal healthcare. The Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) aims to prevent these avoidable deaths and has a target of 12 stillbirths per 1,000 live births by 2030. To compare, today, the stillbirth rate in sub-Saharan Africa is 29 per 1,000 live births and, in developed countries, is three stillbirths per 1,000 live births on average.

An estimated 5.9 million children under five die every year around the world. However, instances in developing countries are higher. In low-income countries, the under-five mortality rate is about 76 deaths per 1,000 live births. To compare, in high-income countries, the under-five mortality rate is about seven deaths per 1,000 live births. Seventy percent of these deaths in developing countries are preventable and caused by acute lower respiratory infections (such as pneumonia), diarrhea, malaria, measles, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and neonatal conditions.

About 2.7 million children die annually during the first month of life. Seventy-five percent of these newborn deaths happen during the first week and up to 50 percent during the first 24 hours. Causes of neonatal and infant mortality include prematurity, low birth weight, infections, birth asphyxia, HIV-infected mothers and birth trauma.

The majority of these infant deaths are preventable with health measures and care during and after birth, particularly during the first week of life. Additionally, most deaths under the age of five can be prevented with access to basic goods and services such as nutrition, water, sanitation, shelter, education, healthcare and information. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to decrease instances of under-five mortality as well as stillbirths. Part of SDG goal three is to end preventable infant and child mortality by 2030.

Improving fertility rates has positive effects on economics, health, environment and education. And, contrary to a popular foreign aid myth, improving child survival rates can actually decrease population growth rates around the world. Ironically, fertility rates in developing countries and around the world can, in turn, affect stillbirth and under-five mortality rates. Addressing this perceivably unending cycle is critical to ending global poverty.

Francesca Montalto

Photo: Flickr