Lancet calls for action to slow population growth

Posted: 18 September 2009

The respected British medical journal The Lancet today called for providing contraception to the world's 200 million women who currently lack access to it as a way to "slow population growth and reduce demographic pressure on the environment."

The lead editorial in this week's edition said the developing countries that are least responsible for rising greenhouse gas emissions are likely to experience the heaviest impact of the climate change that results, with women bearing the greatest toll. "In tandem with other factors, rapid population growth in these regions increases the scale of vulnerability to the consequences of climate change," the editorial said. "For example, food and water scarcity, environmental degradation, and human displacement."

The editorial discussed the recent Global Partners in Action NGO Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Development, which was held in Berlin 2-4 September to assess 15 years of progress since the historic International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.

In an earlier Lancet comment August 28, forum organizers described "selective and uneven" achievements on women's health since 1994. "The right to the highest attainable standard of health, particularly sexual and reproductive health, continues to elude millions of people, especially the poor and marginalized. Statistics speak for themselves," the article said.

The current editorial urged the sexual and reproductive health and rights community to take action on behalf of the world's women: "With less than three months to go, the UN Copenhagen conference on climate change provides an opportunity to draw attention to the centrality of women," it said.

"The sexual and reproductive health and rights community should challenge the global architecture of climate change, and its technology focus, and shift the discussion to a more human-based, rights-based adaptation approach. Such a strategy would better serve the range of issues pivotal to improving the health of women worldwide."

Read the full editorial here