The world’s population will increase by 2.2 billion by 2050, the United Nations said on Wednesday, with 1.3 billion of that growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
The U.N. Population Fund’s State of the World Population 2018 report, released on Wednesday, noted limited access to healthcare and education, as well as “entrenched gender discrimination” in the region. The 156-page report, subtitled The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition, acknowledged that parents having smaller families is a trend across most nations. Women have four or more children in 43 countries, and 38 are in Africa, it said.
If the prediction is correct, it means that Africa’s share of the world population will increase from 17 percent in 2017 to 26 percent by 2050.
The report encourages methods to delay or prevent pregnancies, according to a woman’s choice and interests.
RELATED Newer birth control pills linked to lower ovarian cancer risk
“Choice can change the world,” wrote Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNPFA executive director, in the report. “It can rapidly improve the well-being of women and girls, transform families, and accelerate global development.”
The report also notes fertility rates are significantly lower in African cities than in rural areas. It cites Ethiopia, where urban women have 2.1 children on average, compared to five children per woman in the rest of the country.
“Every year, 300,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth because they have no choices in maternal health care. Every day, thousands of girls are forced into child and early marriage and are victims of female genital mutilation. They have no choices,” Monica Ferro, UNPFA chief, said. “In developing countries, 671 million women have chosen to use modern contraception. We know that 250 million in the developing world want to control their fertility and lack access to modern contraceptive methods.”
RELATED Women, doctors protest new South Korea abortion restrictions
The report stresses maternal healthcare, better sex education, access to contraceptives and a change female stereotypes as ways to reduce birth rates. It acknowledged, though, that some developing countries do not have the resources or political security to improve reproductive rights.