Population Trends and Population Culture [Archives:2003/640/Health]

June 9 2003

Population problem in Yemen is considered one of the main obstacles facing development, if not to assume it the greatest one. Three decades of rapid growing and expanding, the demographics of this country have become a real mess. From as low as 7 million in 1975, to 11.6 million in 1988, to 15.4 million in 1944 yielding a population growth rate of 3.7%, one of the highest in the world. Probably there were many factors that played along, such as first Gulf war resulting the 18 million and more today, but if the rate remains the same it is expected that in less than 18 years the number will be multiplied.
The rapid and unorganized population growth has caused imbalance to development and demographic situation. Reason is that the resources are quite limited and the cycle in which they are reproduced such as underground water through rain is much slower, hence, with more demand than supply it is natural that there will be a critical crisis.
There are a number of indicators that cause worry:
Average life span does not exceed 55 years in Yemen, true that it is better than 20 years ago but it is definitely less than that of other developing countries
Infant mortality is 80%, very high in comparison with 5-10% in developing countries
Mother mortality rate is 0.5% against 0.004% – 0.01% in the developing countries
50% of the children below 5 years are subjected to any sort of malnutrition and 40% of children go through acute phases of diarrhea and digestion system diseases.
Statistics indicate that more than 40% of the population does not have suitable drinking water.
Although action is being taken to reduce those measures and to improve the situation, yet medical services themselves are in shortage especially that concerning mother and child care in the suburb (only 27%) more than in the cities.
Family planning mechanisms and schemes still are below required level and demographical census in 1997 described that only average of 21% (36% cities and 16% suburbs) of married women apply to any family planning methods.
Studies also showed that the most critical dangers that family faces are mainly because one of three reasons; early or late pregnancy, rapid pregnancies, and short time span between one pregnancy and the other. If this problem about birth control remains as it is, then the gap between consumption and resources will grow wider and wider, resulting in health, social, and economic problems. Therefore it is of crucial significance to act immediately under the National Strategy for Population that was authenticated in 1991 and was developed into a strategic plan in 1997.