Challenges, opportunities as PH pop'n reaches 100M

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 26 2014 04:46 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2014 01:00 AM

MANILA - The Philippines will be facing new challenges and opportunities as its population reaches 100 million on Sunday, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said.

According to the UNFPA, the country's 100-million population will present opportunities to invest in the future.

"The issue of population is critical for humanity. But it is important to emphasize that population is not merely a matter of numbers, but of human rights and opportunities," Klaus Beck, Country Representative of the UNFPA in the Philippines, said in a statement.

The UNFPA cited the 2011 State of World Population Report stating that the attainment of a stable population is essential for accelerated economic growth and development.

"Governments that are serious about eradicating poverty should also be serious about providing the services, supplies, information that women, men and young people need to exercise their reproductive rights," the report said.

The Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world.

According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), three babies are born every minute here. Following this trend, the population is expected to hit 100 million on Sunday, July 27, at 12:06 a.m.

Beck pointed out that the unmet need for reproductive health care, especially voluntary family planning, remains great in the Philippines.

He said women in the poorest group have an average of six children, two more than they desire, "because of lack of access to reproductive health information and services."

The UN body also said that 10 percent of Filipino girls aged 15 to 19 have begun childbearing. Young people are also increasingly becoming more vulnerable to HIV infections, with one out of three new cases belonging to the 15-24 age group.

People under the age of 25 make up 54 percent of the Philippine population.

"There is a need to respond to the rights and needs of young people by providing them with education, job opportunities, and life skills including appropriate information about their sexuality," Beck said.

The UNFPA also said 49 percent of the country's population now live in cities, as more people from the rural areas look for better opportunities elsewhere.

This migration poses issues, particularly trafficking in women and girls, that have to be addressed, it said.

"The 100 million Philippine population presents an opportunity for all partners and stakeholders to make the right investments in people now so we can prepare the groundwork for thriving, sustainable cities, productive labour forces that fuel equitable economic growth, youth that contribute to the well-being of economies and societies, and a generation of older people who are healthy and actively engaged in the social and economic affairs of their communities," Beck said.