Let's control world's population (enforce 2 child policy) to make it a better place to live

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By Vinay Patil for Together We Can Transfigure

Sometime back when I was sipping a cup of tea at a tea point somebody threw their partially eaten food into a nearby dustbin, to my utter disappointment a small boy rushed to it and immediately ate that, it was heartbreaking; it churned my conscience and raised following questions: When will all this end? Why problems are remaining as problems? Why are we not uniting to permanently resolve them? Why are we not enforcing population control law?

Our world can become a better place to live when we put an end to population explosion. Let's not be callous. Let's live with social fidelity, we all have social debts and obligations to do good for the society, let's oblige. One person eating 2 breads is better than 2 persons eating a bread each. Resources and production can be best enjoyed when we control population. Instead of letting a child due to starvation let's control population.

Most of the problems we're facing today can be attributed to population explosion, it's the root cause of poverty and unemployment, starvation and malnutrition, traffic jam and different forms of pollution. It also causes scarcity of food, water, fuel, electricity, homes (sheltering space), seats in buses and trains, beds in hospital, etc. It's also the cause of global warming, deforestation,drought, rapid urbanization and other innumerable never ending list of problems.

Population explosion will also result in the creation of slums and beggars. Living condition of people in slums is deplorable. UN-HABITAT defines slum as lacking at least one of the following: a) access to safe water, b) access to sanitation, c) safe and secure tenure or d) durable housing structures. Owing to lack of basic amenities and infrastructure slum dwellers are vulnerable to many diseases. Congested houses in slums resulting from overcrowd will be devoid of adequate ventilation, this inadequate ventilation is associated with a higher risk of airborne infectious disease transmission including tuberculosis as well as accumulation of indoor pollutants and dampness, which are factors in the development of allergies and asthma. Indoor air pollution can also cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The stench emanating from slums due to: poor ventilation, poor sanitation and hygiene and improper garbage disposal is detrimental to lungs and kidneys. The lack of structurally sound, climate-adapted and ventilated homes further puts the health of slum dwellers at the risk of climate change related extreme weather - including heat waves, cold or storms.

As a result of lack of access to safe water and sanitation along with improper garbage disposal and poor hygiene practice vectors will be breeding in slums causing vector-borne diseases. These diseases are human illnesses caused by parasite, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by vectors (mosquitoes, sandflies, triatomine bugs, blackflies, ticks, tsetse flies, mites, snails and lice). Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases causing annually 7,00,000 deaths worldwide. More than 3.9 billion people in over 128 countries are at risk of contracting dengue, with 96 million cases estimated per year.  Malaria causes more than 4,00,000 deaths every year globally, most of them being children under five years of age. Other diseases such as chagas disease, leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Open defecation which is a major cause of fecal-oral diseases is prevalently practiced by slum people due to: 1) unavailability of toilets or sewer connection, 2) poor maintenance or less number of toilets or 3) scarcity of water. Sewage from all houses together has to be treated in sewage treatment plants before its expulsion but sewage of slum houses having no toilets or sewer connection will be left untreated either to a nearby water source or open area; this'll contaminate the soil, groundwater, water source, food chain and will pave the way for transmission of fecal-oral, foodborne and waterborne diseases like hepatitis, cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid, dysentry by pathogens. Soil contamination has the highest or most persistent potential for harboring a pathogen. Hygiene is critical for the prevention of infection by them.

About 1.8 billion people worldwide drink water from sources contaminated with faeces that can carry cholera bacterium and 2.4 billion people are without adequate sanitation facilities. Researchers have estimated that each year there are 1.3 to 4.0 million cases of cholera, and 21,000 to 1,43,000 deaths worldwide. Provision of safe water and sanitation is critical to control the transmission of cholera and other waterborne diseases. Diarrhoea which is a major fecal-oral disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years of age. Globally every year there are 1.7 billion cases of childhood diarrhoeal disease out of which it kills around 5,25,000 children under five. It is the leading cause of malnutrition in children. The most common cause of diarrhoea is an infection of the intestines due to pathogens. These infections are often acquired from food or water that has been contaminated by stool, or directly from another person who is infected. Open defecation is the leading cause of infectious diarrhoea leading to death. Water contaminated with human faeces, for example, from sewage, septic tanks and latrines is of particular concern. Animal faeces also contain microorganisms that can cause diarrhoea. Key measures to prevent diarrhoea include: 1) good personal and food hygiene, 2) access to safe drinking water, 3) use of improved sanitation, 4) hygienic food preparation and storage, 5) safe domestic water storage and handling and 6) hand washing with soap after coming in contact with faeces and changing diapers, etc. Typhoid fever is a systematic infection caused by Salmonella Typhi, usually through ingestion of contaminated food or water. It occurs predominantly in association with poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water. Dysentry is a specific type of diarrhoea which results from viral, bacterial or parasitic infestations. These pathogens typically reach the large intestine after entering orally, through ingestion of contaminated food or water, oral contact with contaminated objects or hands, and so on.

It can be noted that proper hygiene and sanitation is crucial for preventing many deadly diseases and maintaining good health but it is severely absent in slums. Ultimately we can conclude that poor ventilation, substandard housing, lack of safe drinking water and sanitation, scarcity of hygiene related things and water for everyday usage leading to poor hygiene practice combined with improper garbage disposal together makes living condition of people in slums pathetic. Around 1 billion people in the world are living in slums. Slums are a blot to civilized society, lamentably not only they cost health of people living in them but also to the surrounding people and community as a whole; thus by controlling population we can definitely provide better housing with basic infrastructure and amenities along with necessary things for hygiene to all so that the concept of slum gets uprooted forever.

Population explosion is also the main cause of malnutrition in pregnant women and infants. Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalance in a person's intake of energy and/or nutrients. The term malnutrition addresses 3 broad group of conditions:

  • Undernutrition, which includes wasting, stunting and underweight
  • Micronutrient-related malnutrition, which includes micronutrient deficiencies or micronutrient excess; and
  • Overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases

Undernutrition makes children in particular much more vulnerable to disease and death. There are 3 sub-forms of undernutrition :

  1. Wasting - Low weight-for-height is known as wasting. It usually indicates recent and severe weight loss, because a person has not had enough food to eat and/or they have had an infectious disease, such as diarrhoea, which has caused them to lose weight. A young child who is moderately or severely wasted has an increased risk of death, but treatment is possible.
  2. Stunting - Low height-for-age is known as stunting. It is the result of chronic or recurrent undernutrition, usually associated with poor socioeconomic conditions, poor maternal health and nutrition, frequent illness, and/or inappropriate infant and young child feeding and care in early life. Stunting holds children back from reaching their physical and cognitive potential. Stunting is associated with an underdeveloped brain, with long-lasting harmful consequences, including diminished mental ability and learning capacity, poor school performance in childhood, reduced earnings and increased risks of nutrition-related chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity in future. Stunting starts from preconception when an adolescent girl and who later becomes mother is undernourished and anaemic; it worsens when infants diets are poor, and when sanitation and hygiene are inadequate. It is irreversible by the age of two. Child survival and health is inseparably connected to reproductive and maternal health
  3. Underweight - Children with low weight-for-age are known as underweight. A child who is underweight may be stunted, wasted or both.

Micronutrient-related malnutrition - Vitamins and minerals are often referred to as micronutrients. Micronutrients enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances that are essential for proper growth and development. Iodine, vitamin A and iron are the most important in global public health terms; their deficiency represents a major threat to the health and development of populations worldwide, particularly children and pregnant women in low-income countries. The most widespread nutritional deficiency worldwide is iron deficiency. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, a blood disorder that causes fatigue, weakness and a variety of other symptoms. Vitamin A is group of nutrients crucial for eye health and functioning, and reproductive health in men and women. It also plays a part in strengthening the immune system against infections. According to World Health Organization (WHO), a lack of vtamin A is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Pregnant women deficient in vitamin A have higher maternal mortality rates as well. Vitamin B-9 often referred to as folate, helps the body create red blood cells and produce DNA. It also helps brain development and nervous system functioning. Folate is especially important for fetal development. It plays a crucial role in the formation of developing a child's brain and spinal chord. Folate deficiency can lead to severe birth defects, growth problems or anaemia. Iodine deficiency can cause congential abnormalities. Low zinc levels cause fetal growth retardation. Calcium deficiency can lead to poor fetal skeletal development. Other micronutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B-1, B-3, etc are all vital for health of pregnant women and infants.

Overweight and obesity - Overweight and obesity is when a person is too heavy for his or her height. Abnormal or excessive fat accumulation can impair health. Overweight and obesity results from an imbalance between energy consumed (too much) and energy expended (too little). Globally people are consuming foods and drinks that are more energy-dense (high in sugars and fats), and engaging in less physical activity.

Diet related noncommunicable diseases - These include cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and stroke, and often linked with high blood pressure), certain cancers and diabetes. Unhealthy diets and poor nutrition are among the top risk factors for these diseases globally.

Malnutrition affects people in every country. Women, infants, children and adolescents are at particular risk of malnutrition. Optimizing nutrition early in life - including the 1000 days from conception to a child's second birthday - ensures the best possible start in life, with long-term benefits. Poverty amplifies the risk of, and risks from, malnutrition. People who are poor are more likely to be affected by different forms of malnutrition. Many families cannot afford or access enough nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, meat and milk, while foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt are cheaper and more readily available, leading to a rapid rise in the number of children and adults who are overweight and obese, in poor as well as rich countries. It is quite common to find undernutrition and overweight within the same community, household or even individual - it is possible to be both overweight and micronutrient deficient, for example.

Malnutrition increases health care costs, reduces productivity and slows economic growth, which can perpetuate a cycle of poverty and ill health. Around 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight, while 462 million are underweight. An estimated 41 million children under the age of 5 years are overweight or obese, while some 159 million are stunted and 50 million are wasted. Around 800 million people - one in nine across the globe - do not have enough food to eat everyday. Poor nutrition causes 45% of deaths in children under 5, that's 3.1 million children each year. 66 million children go to school hungry across the developing world, preventing them from reaching their full potential. An estimated 250 million preschool children do not get enough vitamin A. Some 2,50,000 to 5,00,000 vitamin A deficient children become blind every year. An estimated 27% of adolescents in developing countries are iron-deficient. Nearly 50% of people living in extreme poverty are 18 years old or younger. According to WHO, anaemia contributes to about 20% of all maternal deaths. Hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined together. About 21,000 people die of hunger or related causes every day. Every year, 17 million children are born undernourished due to a mother's lack of nutrition before and during pregnancy. In the country of Haiti due to ecological and environmental disasters sometimes people will not be able to grow any crops. In such situations almost all food needs to be imported into Haiti and the prices continue to skyrocket; poor people who can't afford resort to eating mud cookies to combat hunger. People that eat the cookies can get all kinds of parasites from it, heavy metal poisoning, and bacterial infections, all of which are incredibly common in Haiti. The children who eat the mud cookies suffer from stomach pains at night, but the mothers have nothing else to feed their children. The dirt is a disease that's killing them one-by-one. Hunger and malnutrition are the burning problems of our world and by controlling population we can definitely put an end to them.

To increase food grain production and save people from starvation green revolution was started but paradoxically it had shown dire consequences on soil, environment and human health. It was also started in India, among India's various states Punjab was the hub of green revolution, which made the Punjab's farmers self-sufficient. As per the statistical abstract of Punjab report (2005), the grain production in Punjab increased from 3.16 million tons in 1960-61 to 25.66 million tons in 2004-05. Similarly the production of cotton increased from 0.12 million tons in 1960-61 to 0.37 million tons in 2007-08 with a mere 1.35-fold increase in the area under cotton cultivation. This increased production had some major drawbacks, one of which was a high use of pesticides. Unfortunately, over the past five decades health of the people of Punjab has deteriorated as green revolution brought changes in their agricultural practices and lifestyle. About 54% of the total pesticide consumption of India is on cotton alone, though it is grown in only 5% of the total cultivable area. The pests have developed resistance to almost every pesticide due to their continuous excessive usage. There are serious environmental problems and health concerns resulting from the excess use of pesticides. Studies in Punjab have shown that there are pesticide residues in milk from cattle, in fruits, vegetables and even in breast milk. The pesticides like t-HCH, heptachlor, aldrin, chlordane, t-DDT, t-endosulfan, chlorpyriphos, malathion, monocrotophos and phosphamidon have been detected in the blood samples of Malwa region of Punjab. The farmers primarily agricultural workers, and local communities are inadvertently exposed directly or indirectly to the harmful pesticides by oral ingestion, dermal absorption, and inhalation. WHO has estimated that every year 3 million cases of acute pesticide poisonings occur globally and out of this 10% die. On average 25-30% people are being admitted in hospitals due to pesticide poisoning annually in this region. According to a survey conducted by the government, cancer claimed 33,318 lives in the state between 2008 and 2012, out of which 14,682 were in the Malwa region alone. In fact, a train that connects Bathinda with Bikaner in neighbouring Rajasthan is known as the cancer express as it ferries a large number of cancer patients from punjab to Bikaner for treatment at a cancer hospital. Research has revealed that the soil in this belt is high in Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), nitrates, phosphates and uranium, which gradually make way to agricultural produce. Agro-chemicals also affect fertility and can lead to mental disorders in infants. Pesticides lead to neural tube defects and can cause stunted growth and mental disorders in children. There have been reports of reduced sperm counts, spontaneous abortions and premature deliveries from some belts in the state. It's high time now we should shift our focus to organic farming practices if we want to save our next generation from serious health disorders. (Kindly visit Adverse effects of Green revolution and Cancer express in Punjab for more details)

But can organic farming really feed the world? This is a question that has been pondered for decades and one that is not without controversy. Organic farming can provide enough food for world's booming population and also is safe for environment. This benign method of farming starts at the core by protecting  and regenerating the water and soil that make organic farming products so much better for us. In contrast, industrial farming which uses chemicals that are harmful to all living things, cause immense harm to the environment. The horrific results of industrial agriculture practices can be found in the poisoning and depletion of water resources and acquifers, massive soil erosion, dead zones in the oceans such as the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as major increases in greenhouse gases which impact global warming. One can look at the issue as it relates to long term sustainability. Organic farming is sustainable just as it has been practiced by indigenous people all over the planet for thousands of years. Industrial farming is not, it is poisoning the soil and the water we need to survive in addition to killing creatures like bees that are needed for food production. Organic farming uses far less energy while at the same time protecting beneficial insects and offering a bio diverse environment for many plants and animals to thrive in. Because organic farming increases the capacity for the soil to retain water as well as strengthening the structure of the soil organic farms are more resistant to major weather events such as floods and drought.

We all need air, water and food for survival, let's make sure they're not contaminated. By controlling population not only we can prevent food shortage but also put less burden on our soil and environment so that they remain safe for our future generations.

I urge each and every concerned individual to sign this petition demanding a global policy where married couple can not have more than 2 children.

courtesy:
WHO, UNICEF, wikipedia, healthline.com, mercycorps.org, loveachild.com, biologicalinsights.com, thehindu.com, treeoflifefoundation.org 

 

 



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