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World - Europe

Baby Six Billion born in Bosnia


October 11, 1999
Web posted at: 7:39 p.m. EDT (2339 GMT)

In this story:

1 billion living in poverty

Population fund needs more money


SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- A baby boy -- symbolically designated the world's six billionth person -- was born to a first-time mother in a Sarajevo hospital early Tuesday, the head of a pediatric clinic said.

Dr. Idris Bukvic, pediatrics chief at the hospital, said Fatima Nevic gave birth to the 8-pound, healthy boy two minutes after midnight, after a seven-hour labor. Mother and baby were fine, he said.

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"This is an extraordinary event to our great pleasure," Bukvic said.

The United Nations Population Fund had estimated the world's population would reach six billion on Tuesday, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he would declare the first child born in the Bosnian capital after midnight local time Baby Six Billion.

"There are no political or any other reasons behind the decision," said U.N. spokesman Douglas Coffman. "Had the secretary-general been in New York, then it would have been a New York baby." Annan is in Bosnia-Herzegovina on a two-day visit.

The United Nations had hoped to keep the baby's identity secret until Tuesday afternoon, when Annan plans to visit mother and child.

Nevic and her husband, Jasminko, are from the Bosnian town of Visoko. The couple was married last year, she said.

"I heard others talking about a six billionth baby but I found out from the doctors that it's mine," Nevic said. "I still don't know what name he will have. Regardless of whether he's the six billionth baby or not, I'm a happy mother."

A September report by the UNPFA estimates that by 2050, some 8.9 billion people will be living on the earth.

In 12 years, the world's population grew from 5 billion to 6 billion, spurred by a population explosion in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and West Asia. Population growth has slowed or stopped in Europe, North America and Japan.

The United States is the only industrial nation where the population is projected to increase, largely as a result of immigration, the UNPFA report says.

Population growth as a whole is slowing, due to falling birth rates. The report says fertility rates in developing countries have dropped from more than six children per woman in 1950 to less than three today.

Adding to the growth, people are living longer. The average global life expectancy has risen from 46 to 66 years.

A billion people living in poverty

But, says the UNPFA report, while people are living longer and healthier lives, there are still a billion people living in poverty.

"World population is still increasing by 78 million people a year. Ninety-seven percent of that increase is in developing countries, where access to family planning and reproductive health services is limited," says Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of UNPFA.

According to the report, in 1996, about over 1 billion people had no access to clean drinking water, while almost one-sixth of the world's population, or 841 million people, are chronically malnourished today.

Population fund needs more money

In 1994, a U.N. population conference decided that $17 billion was needed until 2000 for programs such as global family planning, but by 1997, only $10 billion had been raised.

Unless the United States and the European Union increase their funding, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, mother and child deaths, and HIV/AIDS cases would increase significantly, said the report.

In Africa, says the report, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death and in 29 African countries, the average life expectancy is seven years lower than it would have been without AIDS.

Populations are not expected to decline because of the high birth rates in these countries, but to slow and stop the spread of infection will require better public education and improvements in reproductive health care.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Report: World population to top 6 billion this year
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The Day of 6 Billion
Facing the Future: People and the Planet
Zero Population Growth
Population Action International
Demography and population studies
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