The goal of most public health efforts can be summed down to one purpose: to save human lives. This goal seems noble, but is it sustainable? The vast majority of public health issues in the developing world can be traced to over population. The world is fast approaching if not above its carrying capacity.
Overpopulation self corrects in the form of war and disease as has been described in Jared Diamond’s “Collapse.” By eliminating diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, TB, and famine we delay the onset of these corrective measures. In doing so we allow the population to surge, forcing resources to be divided more ways and increasing crowding. It is under these conditions that disease thrives.
I believe the most important way to improve quality of life in the developing and developed worlds is to control the population. Therefore family planning efforts, which have proven effective in countries like China and Burma, are the most important public health project available. Only when population growth reaches zero, or declines, can we focus on eliminating disease without running the risk of creating even greater problems for future generations. This does not mean I believe that efforts to stop disease and human suffering should be discontinued. But we must understand that the result of these efforts makes the need for family planning even greater.