Representatives from the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – met in Brasília on Thursday (Feb. 12) to ratify their agenda for cooperation on population issues by 2020. The representatives say besides sharing population problems, the countries have “pockets of excellence” – expertise that they could share with other countries experiencing the same issues they have been through in the past.
The main challenges are in such areas as maternal mortality, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, rural-urban migration and urbanization, ageing, and gender differences in employment. “We all face major population challenges and if we want to overcome them, we will need to come up with innovative policies and improve the existing ones,” said Ricardo Paes de Barros, chairman of the National Commission on Population and Development, the Brazilian agency responsible for initiating actions related to the these issues on a ministry level.
AIDS care is one of the areas in which Brazil could help South Africa, where 20% of the adult population has the disease. Regarding the population shift from rural to urban areas, Brazil has already been where China and India are now so it can share its experience. “Now, maternal mortality is an area we still have more to learn than to teach, because our country is not going to achieve the millennium goal,” he said. All of the countries are still working on better policies for their ageing populations.
“We have a number of problems that affect our populations, such as ageing and migration waves. We should work to achieve mutual goals,” says Russia’s Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection, Sergei Velmyaykin. He said that the next meeting on population issues will be in Moscow, since Russia will take over the rotating BRICS chairmanship this year.
According to the Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India, only 30% of the country’s population lives in urban areas, and the outlook is that it will reach approximately 90% over the next 70 years – an experience Brazil has gone through in the past which could provide some insight for India. “This cooperation agenda will empower us to advance even more,” he said.
Wang Peilna, Deputy Minister of the National Commission on Health, Family, and Planning of China, is especially focused on the issue of aging. “Some 200 million people are over 65 years old and we need to improve their living conditions,” he said.
According to Sipho Snezi, advisor for the Department of Social Development of South Africa, any strategy the group considers pursuing should have in human rights its core principle. He placed a strong emphasis on cooperation: “More than discussing problems, we have identified pockets of excellence in a number of different areas and will keep working.”
Translated by Mayra Borges