HAVING smaller populations may allow countries to attain a more sustainable recovery from Covid-19, according to experts from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In an Asian Development Blog, Honorary Senior Research Fellow Jane O’Sullivan and Advisor and Chief of Knowledge Advisory Services Center Susann Roth said slowing population growth can lead to better quality of lives not only for young people but also seniors.

If there are fewer babies born, countries can ensure that they are taken cared of through proper nutrition and education while seniors can extend their years of productivity, allowing them to continue providing for themselves and their families.

“It’s time to stop worrying about ‘getting old before getting rich.’ A lower proportion of working-age people will not impede getting rich, because it strengthens rather than shrinks the work force. More consistent and better employment will allow households to save for retirement,” O’Sullivan and Roth said.

“Better health care means more people will choose and be able to work past 65, without it needing to be legislated. Easing pressures on housing and natural resources will improve community resilience,” they added.

O’Sullivan and Roth said increasing populations is costly for economies. They said for every 1- percent annual increase in population growth rate, governments need to spend 7 percent of GDP to address the needs of these citizens.

This means spending for additional houses, roads, hospitals, schools, power stations, sewage works and other durable items, which are needed for them to be able to enjoy the same or higher level of lifestyle of people currently in the population.

If countries will spend less on these, O’Sullivan and Roth said, they can spend more for better health and education services. This will also allow governments to spend more for pensions.

The authors said spending more for pensions of seniors will also be likened to an economic stimulus that provides a much-needed boost for consumption and economic growth.

“Good care at both ends of life should be part of the social contract between generations, provided proudly, not with miserly lamentations,”  O’Sullivan and Roth said.

“Now is the time for them to roll out universal pension coverage and invest in preventive health care and better living conditions to allow for healthy aging. This spending will create industries around products and services for older people and boost local economies, helping to make the expanding program affordable,” they also said.

Contraceptive use

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, telemedicine support platforms are helping more women get access to modern contraceptives amid the pandemic.

In a statement, Bayer Philippines said it’s “Ask Mara” chatbot on Facebook is one such platform that has expanded its features to include access to teleconsultation services.

The Facebook chatbot can now also help one locate nearby Mercury Drug, Watsons, Southstar and Rose Pharmacy drugstores, or get more information soon on topics like androgen excess and endometriosis.

“Mara is really your go-to-girl for relevant health choices and now she makes it easier for us to access our partner experts,” said Marie Michelle Dado, a Fellow of the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.

“In this pandemic where it can be difficult to get in touch with doctors and find options for contraceptive and reproductive health, these new features help take some of the worry out of women and let us focus on ourselves, on work and our family,” she added.

The Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) has also set up hotlines for remote medical consultations and door-to-door delivery of birth control supplies.

Popcom earlier said family planning services in government-run reproductive health clinics saw the reduction of over 50 percent due to mobility restrictions.

Image courtesy of Nonie Reyes





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