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Opinions: Population Growth; Global HIV Response; Global Malaria Fight; Child Brides

Heed Population Dynamics

International population dynamics are a “ticking time bomb, which we cannot afford to neglect any longer,” George Tsereteli, president of the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development, writes in a New Europe opinion piece. “The strain that these burgeoning populations place on all the available natural and human resources and services around them is far too great for the needs of all citizens to be satisfactorily met. Huge sectors of these societies are inevitably going to be brought up undernourished, uneducated, and doing more damage to the planet than it can sustainably absorb,” according to Tsereteli.

“If the developed world remains inactive in the face of this exponential demographic growth, the future of humanity as a whole will be bleak. For the problems of poverty, starvation, ill health and environmental degradation across the developing world will not stop at national borders,” he writes. Tsereteli notes that there are ways to slow population growth and recommends family planning education for young women. “We must educate families about the positive implications of having only as many children as their resources will allow and enabling them all to be educated; we must allow women to become the masters of their reproductive health and their destinies; and we must allow women to receive an education,” he writes (5/1).

World Leaders Must Inspire Continued Interest In Global HIV Response

“HIV prevention, the mainstay of the response to the HIV epidemic, is in danger of falling off the global agenda,” Nobel Peace Prize laureates Desmond Tutu and Mohamed El Baradei, both members of the UNAIDS High Level Commission on HIV Prevention, write in a Mail & Guardian opinion piece. The piece comes ahead of a High Level Commission on HIV Prevention meeting on South Africa’s Robben Island.

“Preventing HIV works, but flagging interest requires a new, determined surge in leadership and commitment at every level of government and society to transform the response – putting the interests of those at risk above politics and ideology. It requires us to learn from and support people vulnerable to HIV, not blame them,” they write. According to Tutu and El Baradei, the next “global milestone” for AIDS will be in June when the U.N. General Assembly examines the global AIDS response. “Our hope is that the spirit of struggle and renewal will inspire that gathering to sweep away any vestige of complacency in the AIDS response,” they conclude (4/29).

Challenges, Opportunities In Global Malaria Fight

“No organization better embodies the moral imperative of ending malaria deaths than the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA). … [T]he group has added government advocacy and accountability to the combined efforts being made to halt and reverse the spread of malaria on the continent,” according to a Project Syndicate/Daily News Egypt opinion piece by Tony Blair, founder of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and Ray Chambers, the U.N. special envoy for malaria. The piece highlights recent developments in the global malaria fight and highlights the role of faith communities. “Now is no time for indifference. Much significant progress has already been made; now we must consolidate our gains. As foreign aid stands to suffer from cutbacks around the world, we must remember that malaria is a ‘natural disaster’ that is devastating communities every second of every day. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes can never be stopped. Malaria can be,” they conclude (5/1).

Stop Girls From Marrying Young

“Girls who marry young are more likely to become mothers before their bodies have matured, which puts them at higher risk for infant and maternal mortality. Medical complications due to pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide,” Tamara Kreinin, executive director of women and population at the U.N. Foundation, writes in a Chicago Tribune opinion piece highlighting the dangers child brides face.

“When we help address the needs of a girl, there is an important ripple effect,” according to Kreinin. “Programs designed to specifically address child marriage actually affect a broader range of positive outcomes, including health, education and economic empowerment. Also, programs that provide safe spaces for girls have been shown to delay the age participants marry,” she writes before highlighting the U.N. Foundation’s Girl Up campaign. “There are 60 million child brides in the world today; that means there are 60 million would-be doctors, teachers and prime ministers who won’t have the chance to pursue these dreams. And a world where a girl can achieve her dreams is a better world for us all,” she writes (4/29).