KABUL - Afghanistan's annual population growth rate stands at 2.4 percent, officials said on Tuesday, warning the population, if not controlled, could double over the next three decades. The Central Statistics Organization (CSO) puts Afghanistan's current population at about 26.5 million, which could increase to 34 million by 2025. The population growth rate had a negative impact on the country's economic development and environment, said the acting health minister, Dr. Suraya Dalil.
She was speaking at a joint press conference with UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin. Osotimehin said that women's living conditions had improved in Afghanistan, where females have found their way to the Cabinet and Parliament.
"Girls going to schools and universities show living conditions for Afghanistan's women have improved," he said, adding one of the most challenging issues was high mortality rate. The rate was brought down with the help of UNFPA.
He cited illiteracy, poverty, lack of access to health services as well as child marriages as main reasons behind the high mortality rate. The UN official stressed the need for public awareness.
Dalil said her ministry had sought help from education, hajj and Islamic affairs ministries and media outlets in raising public awareness.