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Africa records slow birth rate

South African mother with her only son

© Trevor Samson / World Bank / afrol News
afrol News, 11 July
- A report published by the World Bank has noted a slow pace of birth rate in sub-Saharan Africa where the population is growing at a rate of 2.5% a year.

The report dubbed "Fertility Regulation Behaviours and Their Costs: Contraception and Unintended Pregnancies in Africa and Eastern Europe and Central Asia," noted that the number of people in Africa would double within 28 years.

Published ahead of the World Population Day on Friday, the report laid more emphasis on the women's access to contraceptives, as 51 million unplanned pregnancies are linked to lack of access to contraceptive methods.

In the developing countries, the report said another 25 million pregnancies occur mainly due to incorrect us of contraceptives or failure in birth control methods.

Each year, some 68,000 women die every year due to unsafe abortions while 5.3 million become victims of temporary or permanent disability caused by the practice.

Wealthier women are more likely to use contraceptives and acquire the help of a doctor or mid-wife at birth than poor women, the report noted.

The World Bank Vice President for Human Development said it is "tragic" that so many leaders in poor countries and their donors have allowed reproductive health programs to fall off the radar.

"It's simply tragic that so many leaders in poor countries and their aid donors have allowed reproductive health programs to falloff the radar, especially at a time when population issues are also front and center of climate change, and the food and fuel crises," said Joy Phumaphi, a former Health Minister of Botswana.

She warned that falling birth rates would not be achieved through better health programs alone, concurring that improved education for girls, equal economic opportunities for women in society, and fewer households living below the poverty line are also vital parts of a strategy to achieve sustainable reductions in birth rates.

She said by allowing women access to modern contraception and family planning undoubtedly helps to boost economic growth as well as reduce high birth rates and maternal and infant deaths.

The report ranks 35 countries in Africa, including Djibouti, among the world's countries with highest birth rates with more than five children per mother.

Birth rates have fallen fastest in Asia and Latin America where populations are growing by 1.2% a year, the report said.

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