Published: Monday 15 June 1998

  African malady: the populati Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are at a critical turning point in their effort to address the problems of rapid population growth and poor reproductive health, says a study of Population Action International (pai). The economic growth of countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe largely depend on the success or failure of the efforts to expand family planning services and to combat deaths in pregnancy and childbirth and from aids.

In this region, the population has doubled in the past 25 years to 620 million. It is projected that the population may double again in less than three decades, even taking into account declining birth-rates and rising deaths from aids.For more than 20 years, population growth of almost three per cent a year has outpaced economic gains as well as increases in food production, leaving Africans, nearly 22 per cent poorer than in 1975.

C Payne Lucas, president of Africare and a pai board member, says the development challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa are made greater by rapid population growth and poor reproductive health.

The pai report highlights areas where progress is particularly disappointing, including efforts to deal with the problem of teen pregnancy and its serious consequences. More than one seven African adolescents give birth each year - more than twice the average for other developing countries and two and a half times the rate in the us.

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