United Nations experts predict that - by 1985 - the population of South America will have reached 440 million, almost double the 1965 figure.
United Nations experts predict that - by 1985 - the population of South America will have reached 440 million, almost double the 1965 figure. The prediction has a particular relevance for Colombia, third most populous country in the continent after Brazil and Argentina. For Colombia's population is increasing at the rate of more than three per cent a year.
Despite widespread condemnation from the roman Catholic Church there, and an absence of government funds, Colombia's birth control programme is forging ahead.
The leading birth control agency - PROFAMILIA - has been going for seven years and now runs 41 family planning centres in 28 towns and cities. PROFAMILIA says about a quarter of a million families are now practising some from of birth control recommended and distributed by them, including the pill and most of the commonly used artificial sperm barriers. The clinics also offer a pregnancy testing service at a fifth the cost of going to a private doctor.
The Church is not completely antagonistic to the programme: while many of the older priests attack artificial birth control methods as "immoral and inhuman". Most of the younger clergy see it as an indispensable weapon in the fight against poverty. The official stand of the Catholic Church is that all artificial methods of birth control are a sin, and it only condones the "rhythm method" or "safe period sex".