By Lucius Gerrald
Globally, it is difficult to come to the exact number of births every day since not all births are registered or recorded.
But, according to United Nations (UN), it is estimated that around 385,000 babies are born each day around the world translating to 140 million yearly.
This number will remain relatively stable in the 50 years from 2020 to 2070. From 2070 to 2100, the number will decline to around 356,000 thus 130 million a year (UN, 2022)
This year, 2022, Malawi population is projected to increase by 613,224 people and reach 20,666,345 (20 million) in the beginning of 2023. The natural increase is expected to be positive, as the number of births will exceed the number of deaths (NDS, 2022).
In Malawi, on average, about 2,175 babies are born per day (90.63 in an hour). As of 1 January 2022, the population of Malawi was estimated to be 20,053,121 people (National Demographic study, 2022)
A report by Zodiak Broadcasting Station indicates that Mzuzu Urban Health center, Mapale, delivers at least 20 babies per day as confirmed by one of the midwives working at labour ward at the facility.
Cumulatively, at least 600 babies are born every month at Mapale. Authorities at the health facility expressed concern over the number of deliveries saying this certainly puts more pressure on the already limited resources at the hospital.
Mapale acts as a district hospital for Mzuzu. It caters various areas, including the densely populated Mchengautuwa, Chibavi, Mapale and Masasa.
Among many factors that are leading to high birth rate in Malawi, low uptake of contraceptive methods tops the list. According to WHO (2010), only when a nation advocates for a high uptake of family planning methods, there is high evident possibilities that the population may stabilise to the goodness of all citizens.
Additionally, poverty plays a significant role in aiding high birth rate as many poor families see bearing more children who, according to them, the children might get richer in the future, deemed as a way to walk out of poverty.
Illiteracy stands to be another cause of high birth rate. Numerous studies have been conducted and only show that people who did not go to school are more likely to have many children as compared to those who are educated.
Months ago, Presidential advisor on safe motherhood, Dorothy Ngoma, stressed the need to reduce our gross population in Malawi. She suggested that Malawi should have a policy that guides the cumulative number of children per household. In her suggestion, a total number of 2 children could be healthy and safer to every household.
From that health policy opinion, Ngoma sparked a wide range of debate which a lot of people weighed in their views on the whole “2 children per household” opinion.
Some opted not go along with it while other did. People argued that the health opinion seems to bar many families from their right to choices. They said that having many children is one’s natural choice and ought to be respected.
On the other side of the coin, some people backed the idea from the safe motherhood presidential advisor. They stressed that increased birth rates will at large put more pressure on the little resources Malawi have. For example, they argued that due to increased population, there will be need to construct more schools, hospitals to carter for the fast growing populace.
With due respect to the individual right to choices, there is also need to marry rights and responsibilities. People in the communities should come up with own ways on how to safely raise their children at the household level and consequently help to reduce the population.
At large, government has a big responsibility to strengthen health related awareness in regards to safe motherhood so as to reduce high birth rates. There is also need to provide and encourage the use of contraceptives so that citizens should not be delivering babies within a closer space between subsequent births.
Let’s love our green Malawi. Let’s love the health of our children.
The author is a Nursing and Midwifery finalist at Mzuzu University.
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