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A message from the Regional Institute for Population Studies
in celebration of World Population Day

Preserving the health and rights of vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic

World population day signifies a time to reflect on population issues and how they inform the development agenda of nations worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic may have put some planned activities on hold, but the sentiments of the day remain. We join the UNFPA and others in their call to safeguard women and children’s health and rights during this time1. In addition, we seek to highlight the urgent need to protect all aspects of the health and rights of the human population, which is a subject that currently matters most. As we move into the second half of 2020, our hope is that nations will continue to adjust and progress in their work towards not only averting the impacts of COVID-19, but also protecting the health and the rights of their population in every sphere of life.

Population health is briefly defined as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group”2(p380). Population health also includes the development and implementation of “policies and actions to improve the health and well-being of populations”2(p380). This calls for the strengthening of the research and advocacy relationship as well as adopting inter-disciplinary approaches to solving population health issues, especially in sub-Saharan Africa whose disease burden is highest globally.

Generally, governments have and continue to make efforts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on their countries with the sole aim of protecting the health and well-being of their population as well as their livelihoods. The adoption of full or partial lockdowns, restriction on movement to different degrees and enforcement of protocols such as physical distancing (popularly known as social distancing), handwashing and use of sanitizers have gradually become part of the lives of the population irrespective of their spatial location on the globe. While these protocols are being enforced amidst the intransigence of some members of the population, we need to urgently ensure that the health, well-being and livelihoods, and rights of the population, particularly of women and girls are not neglected. Read More