The necessity for a paradigm shift in the population policy with the aim of increasing birth rate to maintain a stable population for the socio-economic development of the country was highlighted by the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr Anwar Husnoo, this morning at Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, as Mauritius joins other countries in observing World Population Day 2017, commemorated on 11 July.
At the launching of activities for the occasion, Dr Husnoo pointed out that Mauritius is undergoing a demographic shift with declining fertility rate and increasing life expectancy, leading towards an ageing and shrinking working population. “In the past decades, the total fertility rate has steadily decreased to below replacement fertility level of 2.1, that is the rate required for a population to replace itself,” he said.
Citing figures, the Minister recalled that the total fertility rate dropped from 5.86 in 1968 to 1.37 in 2016 while life expectancy increased during the same period from 62 years to 78 years for women, and from 59 to 71 for men. In 2016, the elderly aged 60 and above represented 15% of the population in Mauritius while the proportion of young people below 14 years was 18%. These figures are projected to reach 35% regarding the elderly in 2056 compared to 11% for people aged under 14.
The adverse consequences of these trends as well as the challenges they pose to the economy and society were brought forward by the Minister in his address. “With fewer workers and more retirees, the active population faces an increased burden to sustain social services,” said Dr Husnoo. He added that the impact will be felt on economic growth, pension system, savings, investment, consumption, family composition, housing demands, epidemiology and health care.
Speaking on Government’s commitment to provide efficient and high quality reproductive health services to the population, the Minister underscored the need for a comprehensive approach to mitigate the dire consequences of an ageing society and declining population.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, Mr Simon Springett, who was present at the ceremony, recalled the benefit of investing in family planning to eradicate poverty and uphold human rights and dignity. He laid emphasis on the importance of voluntary family planning in empowering women and girls who can thus improve their status, and contribute to the health, income and well-being of their families.
World Population Day 2017
World Population Day is a yearly feature celebrated worldwide to raise awareness on important population and development issues. The theme for this year is ‘Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations’.
In the context of World Population Day 2017, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life in collaboration with the United Nations Populations Fund organises today a one-day interactive session on fertility decline focused on providing a supportive environment for couples to form families with two or more children. Other activities include sensitisation campaigns, talks and training programmes and workshops on family planning and sexual reproductive health issues.
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