The United Nations has projected that the world’s population is expected to reach eight billion on November 15, 2022.
The UN also said India is projected to become the most populous country, surpassing China in 2023.
The PUNCH reports that World Population Day is observed on July 11 every year to raise awareness of global population issues.
The theme for this year’s day is ‘A world of 8 billion: Towards a resilient future for all – Harnessing opportunities and ensuring rights and choices for all.’
In an article posted on its website, the United Nations Population Fund, however, said fertility rates are at a historic low as two thirds of people are now living in a country or area with a lifetime fertility below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman.
“These new data arrive at a time of dizzying uncertainty: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than six million worldwide; a record-breaking 100 million people have been forcibly displaced by violence, persecution or conflict; climate change is ravaging the most marginalized; and pushback against women’s rights continues to threaten the lives, dignity, freedom and welfare of women and girls everywhere.
“Yet the arrival of this milestone – 8 billion people sharing the planet at one time – is also cause for optimism. It is a mark of progress in medicine and health systems, a measure of improvements in education and development, a landmark in human survival. Moreover, declining levels of fertility indicate that many women and girls are increasingly able to exercise control over their own reproductive choices,” it said.
According to the UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, “People are the solution, not the problem. Numbers matter, but let’s count carefully.
“A resilient world of eight billion, a world that upholds individual rights and choices, offers infinite possibilities – possibilities for people, societies and our shared planet to thrive and prosper.”
Commenting on the effect of the figure in Nigeria, a medical doctor and policy analyst, Julian Ojebo, said the increased population would mean that if Nigeria doesn’t increase her per capita spending, increase food production, better healthcare budgeting and frugal spending, then there would be increased diseases, increased hunger and an increased workload on the health infrastructure and her workers.
“The resultant effect of increase in population means that The need for food, water, housing, energy, healthcare, transportation, and other resources will rise as the population grows. And all that consumption increases the likelihood of major catastrophes like pandemics, increases conflicts, and degrades the environment,” he said.
Also, a former past president of the Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, Kogi State, Dr Nnanna Agwu said an increase in world population poses great challenges and opportunities to the world.
He said the population would increase in opportunities for trade of commodities and services thereby increasing wealth for the business community.
Agwu said, “On the other side, there will be increased demand on scarce resources, global climate changes and inconveniences of life.
“Already there is an increase in global energy demands which has increased the prices of petroleum products worldwide. There is also a global food crisis with a lot of people going to bed hungry. So an increase in population will lead to a further increase in consumption, with attendant strain on the economy.
“From the health perspective, it will further put pressure on available health infrastructure and manpower, not forgetting the attendant public health concerns such as the spread of diseases and epidemics. Remember the world is yet to fully be free of COVID-19, which brings to the fore how prepared we are for this population growth. We saw how the world battled with COVID-19.
“So this population increase comes with its own unique challenges. The pressure on scarce resources will also lead to immigration issues across continents.
“So, it is imperative for governments across the world especially Africa to plan for this by improving infrastructure that will accommodate this growth and utilize the economic advantages this will present.”