Published: Sunday 15 December 1996

According to a recent UN report, the world population growth rate is slowing down. Nevertheless, the world is expected to see 3.7 billion more people by the year 2050 from the current level of 5.7 billion.

The less developed countries will continue to be burdened with more denizens. Their growth rate is high at 1.8 per cent, compared to 0.4 per cent for the developed countries. The report is a comprehensive one and gives estimates from 1950 to 1995 and projections till 2050 for populations of 228 countries and areas. China with 1.13 billion people is the most populated country in the world.

The World Health Organization has warned that yellow fever, which could be mistaken for dengue, could become a serious health threat in Asia. With its symptoms similar to dengue haemmorhagic fever, there are chances that it would be wrongly diagnosed, leading to the disease spreading in the Asian countries. David Heyman, head of WHO's Emerging Viral and Bacterial Disease Surveillance Control in Geneva, has urged mass vaccination against yellow fever in Asia. Aedes aegypti, the mosquito which transmits dengue, can also spread yellow fever.

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