It is said that not much attention was paid to the world’s population growths until 1804 when it was first estimated to hit one billion.
Then 123 years later in 1927, it reached two billion, increasing 33 years later in 1960 to three billion, then to four billion 14 years later in 1974, five billion 13 years after in 1987, six billion 12 years following in 1999 and seven billion in October 2011, after a repeated cycle of 12 years.
Thereafter, the UN estimated that the world’s population would hit the eight billionth mark in 2022, a space of 10 years, and truly, yesterday, November 15, was marked as the day the global population reached the UN target or estimate.
It is interesting to note that on any date the UN earmarks as the day the world’s population would hit an additional billion, every country is given the opportunity to celebrate the symbolic billionth baby hit.
Yesterday the country’s symbolic eight billionth baby, a girl, was born five minutes after midnight at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital in Accra, otherwise known as the Ridge Hospital.
The intervals at which the world hits the additional billions in population growth is becoming increasingly alarming as the interval keeps dwindling.
The UN states that the unprecedented growth is due to the gradual increase in human lifespan owing to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine, as well as the result of high and persistent levels of fertility in some countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa such as Ghana.
The UN says these countries with the highest fertility levels tend to be those with the lowest income per capita and that global population growth has become increasingly concentrated among these poorest countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
What is sad about this is that the UN maintains that in these countries, sustained rapid population growth can thwart the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which remain the world’s best pathway toward a happy and healthy future.
The UN has targeted to achieve some 17 goals to improve human life and individual countries have been asked to take certain actions to achieve them.
The goals include eradicating poverty; good health; quality education; clean water and sanitation; and decent work and economic growth.
It is worthy of note that the SDGs are targeted at poor countries, yet these are countries whose unchecked population growth can thwart efforts of the world body to achieve the SDCs. At the ceremony yesterday to celebrate Ghana’s symbolic eight billionth baby, it was reiterated that per the 2021 Population and Housing Census, the country’s population stands at 30.8 million but it should be more after a year.
Even though the country’s fertility rate of over 6.9 in the 1960s has dropped over the years to 3.7 in 2022, it is still too high for any effective planning to redeem its people from squalor.
Therefore, the government must heed the pieces of advice from the UN, its partners and local population experts to control the country’s population within the limits that can allow the achievement of the SDGs.
That way, all Ghanaians, not the privilege few as the case is now, can live meaningful and enjoyable lives.