PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Sept. 23) - Papua New Guinea needs to seriously address the issue of population growth as a matter of urgency. At a growth rate of around 3 per cent a year, our present population of five million will grow at an alarming rate.

This is creating many problems, which we fail to appreciate or understand. For example, our schools are now overcrowded and many more children are still unable to make it into a classroom. This means there is still a large number of school age children who are unable to attend school. The pressure on health services is an extremely serious problem. Hospitals, health centres and aid posts are under extreme pressure from the ever-increasing population to provide quality health services — yet they are unable to cope.

The growth of the economy is unable to maintain this population growth. Over the past few years, our national economy has become stagnant with very little or no growth recorded and the same sad scenario is predicted for the coming years. So, while the economy remains stagnant and no new money allocated to the existing health and education services, the population numbers keep on increasing — thus adding more pressure on the already burdened services. 

We need to educate the masses about the importance of limiting the size of their families so that they raise children who will enjoy a high quality of life rather than have large families and risk not being able to give them quality of life. Our two main national functions of health and education could collapse in the future if there is no growth in the economy to sustain the services they provide to the population.

It is no laughing matter because the social consequences are already being felt throughout the nation. There are many serious problems associated with uncontrolled population growth that need addressing as a matter of high government priority. Legislation may not be the answer. Perhaps, the approach to take is more of persuasion and stating the facts to the public.

September 23, 2003

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