Sat, 05 Jul 2003

New law links population to global issues

Sari P. Setiogi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The House of Representatives (DPR) Commission VII on health and population plans to revise Law No. 10/1992 on population growth and family welfare to catch up with global issues that have emerged in the past several years.

Chairman of the commission Posma Tobing told The Jakarta Post that there were several reasons for amending the law.

The existing law does not yet cover new global issues such as gender, male participation in births, reproductive rights and infertility, he said earlier this week.

"Our country is committed to several recommendations on global issues formulated at international forums on population, such as the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and the Millennium Development Summit 2000 in New York," said Posma.

New articles will be added to the amended law, such as on how to manage births, how to decrease the mortality rate and family empowerment. Gender and population, as well as a chapter on sanctions, will also be regulated separately.

Managing births is an important issue as it relates to family welfare and qualified human resources. According to the Indonesian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (IFPPD), the government is targeting a zero population growth by 2050.

To make it work, said Posma, male participation in managing births should also be addressed in the new law.

Meanwhile, to improve people's welfare, the government should also work on lowering the mortality rate, including maternal and neonatal mortality rates, he said.

The chapter on family empowerment will focus on low-income families so as to enable them to increase family incomes.

The draft amendment will be formulated by several experts on population issues, such as Siswanto Agus Wilopo, deputy of the Family Planning and Reproductive Health of the National Family Planning Board (BKKBN), and Srihariati Hatmadji, chairperson of the Demographic Foundation.

Chairman of the Medical Legal Committee of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) Herkutanto and vice president of the Center of Population Study and Policy Sukamdi are also to be involved in drafting the new law, which is expected to be completed by September.

While awaiting the revision, Commission VII hopes that top government figures across the country will become fully aware of the importance of the issue.

"We can no longer enforce the law in the provinces, except after the law has been revised," said Posma, "but since population is a national issue, regional participation is needed."

Executive secretary of IFPPD Ermalena said the population issue should be at the center of a country's development.

"Population issues relate to many other areas, such as the economy, health and education, as well as the environment," she said.

Indonesia is now ranked 110 on a list of 158 countries on the quality of life, which is determined by three factors: education, health and family finances.