Catholic Church opposes Kiribati population control programme

The Kiribati Ministry of Health is warning about the country’s soaring population.

It has set up a group called HOPE to take its message about the impact of population growth to local communities.

The Catholic Church in Kiribati has several times voiced its opposition to family planning programmes.

Kiribati is a country that has a 50 per cent Catholic population.

In 2013 Radio New Zealand international quoted Bishop Paul Mea as saying that  women in Kiribati have no right to use birth control pills.

Other churches in Kiribati are backing the Ministry of Health’s call.

In 2013 Family Planning New Zealand completed a cost-benefit analysis of increasing access to family planning in Kiribati.

The project was funded by the New Zealand aid programme.

According to the Family Planning researcher Jacob Daube, a cost-benefit analysis of increasing access to family planning in Kiribati stated that there is likely to be a substantial return on every dollar spent on family planning in Kiribati and fertility rates would also fall.

He said that would mean public sector savings of about US$23 for every dollar spent or the equivalent of US$17 million over 15 years.

Right to life New Zealand complained about an interview with Daube aired on Radio New Zealand in November 2013.

The basis of the complaint was that it failed to make a reasonable effort to present significant points of view, either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.

In the complaint Right to Life New Zealand contended the programme featured members of the international population control movement and their intention to change the culture in Kiribati to accept contraception and abortion.

It acknowledged that Kiribati has a serious demographic problem but said it is not going to be solved with contraception, sterilisation and abortion.

It acknowledged that, at the end of the programme, it was briefly mentioned that the Catholic Church was opposed to contraception but there was no explanation of the reasons for the opposition.

The head of HOPE, Dr Teatao Tiira, says the community needs to understand the data and the effects a growing population has.

Kiribati has a population of just over 100,000, with half of them living around Tarawa and Betio.

There are about 2,000 births a year and a natural death rate of about 400 to 500 annually.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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