Indonesia Remains Positive “Poster Child” on Population

June 11, 2012 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Asia/Pacific, News

Despite a great deal of column-inches being allocated to the international population issue of late in mainstream media, there is at least one interest group whose relative silence still remains deafening. Strong, vocal, pronounced leadership from elected governments around the world remains almost totally absent from global discourse. This, despite amazing strides being made by NGOs all over the world in how to conceive of, market and implement effective population interventions offering multiple societal and individual benefits that not only protect, but enhance human rights. The following story reminds us that when governments are brave enough to deal with the multifaceted issues related to population, they can succeed. See:

‘Poster child’

By: Rina Jimenez-David

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:08 pm | Thursday, June 7th, 2012

JAKARTA-Despite political and financial factors that have set back its family planning program, Indonesia remains a “poster child” among countries seeking to curb or slow down population growth.

Having adopted a national family planning policy and program in the 1970s, Indonesia has made impressive gains in terms of slowing its population momentum and meeting the reproductive needs of its citizens. Studies show that if Indonesia’s fertility rate had remained constant at the 1965 level, where the average rate was 5.6 children per woman, its projected total population by 2050 would be 1.6 billion, making it the second most populous country in the world behind India.

But-and this is a big but-with the adoption of a massive, community-based family planning and reproductive health program, Indonesia has been able to slow down that momentum, with the total fertility rate (TFR, or the number of children a woman expects to bear in her reproductive lifetime) brought down to 2.6. However, said Dr. Sugiri Syarief, head of the BkkbN, Indonesia’s population and family planning board, they expect the latest Demographic and Health Survey to show a decline of TFR to 2.3 or 2.4, very near what demographers call “replacement level” fertility.

To a large extent the halving of the average number of children borne by Indonesian women is an accomplishment of the BkkbN, a government board created in the 1970s to plan and oversee national efforts at family planning and promotion of reproductive health. BkkbN is undergoing what Sugiri calls a “revitalization” phase, after years of stagnation following political turmoil and a regional financial crisis. But the renewed commitment of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has served to refocus the national government commitment’s to population issues. This time around, said Sugiri, their focus has shifted to previously neglected target sectors of the population: youth and the very poor, and remote areas of Indonesia, particularly small islands.

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