Public Health Practice and Population Pressure in the Tropics

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  • Division of Medicine and Public Health, The Rockefeller Foundation

We who are here today have special concern in the well-being of tropical peoples. Furthermore, our interest is not simply theoretical. It is practical. Consequently, it disturbs us to be told that modern health practice in the highly populated tropics may actually be doing harm. It therefore seems appropriate at this time to discuss some aspects of this question about public health and population pressure.

We all realize, I believe, that rapid growth of population in areas already densely peopled creates problems which cannot be solved solely by improving public health. We also know that the world's population is increasing. It approaches 2.5 billions and some demographers assume that if existing trends continue, the total by the year 2000 will exceed four billions. But Notestein (1950) after carefully examining the question, says that the only way to test the assumption is to keep alive until that date!