The environment time capsule projectBMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6940.1377a (Published 21 May 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1377
- J Guillebaud
In 1959, while still a teenager, I attended a lecture which changed my life. The biologist Dr Colin Bertram of St John's College, Cambridge, discussed the problems posed by human numbers in meeting human needs. I was then and remain mystified by the lack of effective action, when it ought to be obvious at least to doctors that success in death control over the past two centuries must be balanced by adequate voluntary birth control. Massive national surveys in 60 countries show that family planning is wanted by most of the world's women, yet we do not meet their need. All the demographic targets and coercion are absurd when we have not been pushing at this open door.
The World Health Organisation calculates that two fifths of the annual carnage of 500 000 women dying from childbirth and 40 million unsafe abortions is avoidable. It is avoidable by making modern birth control realistically available to the women of the developing world. As the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) puts it: “Family planning could bring …