What the Future Will Hold for 7th Billion Baby

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Lisa Mullins: It's official, there are now 7 billion of us on the planet. United Nations had calculated that today we would reach this milestone. Now, the UN didn't want to single out any specific newborn as the 7th billion person; it said that all children born today should get a share of the honor. Several countries went ahead and declared their 7th billion baby though. The Philippines was the first to do so. That baby is Danica May Camacho, who was born right around midnight in the capital, Manila. Sunshine deLeon is in the Philippines now. This little girl is already something of a celebrity, but realistically, what does somebody like Danica face in 10 years or 20 years?

Sunshine deLeon: Well, if we just look at circumstances that she was born in a hospital, a government-run hospital which is known to have one of the busiest maternity wards in the world. It's sort of nicknamed the baby factory. There are about 100 babies born every 24 hours and it's quite normal to walk into the post delivery area and you'll see 3-4 women sharing a bed with their newborn babies. So it's not the most plush beginning to start with, however, she was greeted with a special cake and I believe her local benefactors gave her a scholarship grant for her school and a livelihood package to help her parents to start a general store.

Mullins: So she has a bit of a jump start. What about educational prospects?

deLeon: Well, she's gonna be competing with a lot of children in her position. I mean she's come from a low income family and she's gonna have to battle it out with over 90 million people, which means the education system is already over burdened. It has a shortage of over 60,000 classrooms. Many people drop out because of property related reasons, and many children who do attend school are under nourished and have a hard time learning. You add to list that the country has limited health services and it's not going to be easy for her, but you know, the Filipinos are quite hard working and resilient.

Mullins: Well, as you say, the Filipino people are extremely resourceful. What are some of the things that she can look forward to in her life?

deLeon: Well, there are bright spots in the Philippines' economy right now. The stock markets are doing well. Real estate is doing well. It's also a very western-oriented, English is widely spoken, these are all the advantages as she grows up.

Mullins: Okay, Sunshine deLeon in the Philippines, thank you.

deLeon: Thank you.

Mullins: By the way, the human population reached 1 billion back around 1805. Thomas Jefferson was president, he just had to deal with Napoleon for the Louisiana Purchase. Here's a recap of the other billion population milestones: We hit 2 billion in roughly 1927. Calvin Coolidge was in the White House trumpeting isolationism as America's foreign policy strategy. We reached 3 billion people nearly 30 years later, around 1960. President Eisenhower was sending military advisors into south Vietnam and getting ready to exit Pennsylvania Avenue. Only 14 years went by before we reached 4 billion people. That was on Richard Nixon's watch just as the end of the Vietnam War was in sight. 5 billion came about in 1987. Ronald Reagan was in office. His hands were pretty full with the Iran Contra Affair. In 1999 the 6th billionth baby and the Euro were born. A freshly impeached President Clinton oversaw that milestone and the cost of a war. Now, we don't know who's gonna be in the White House for the next billion milestone. That is expected to be sometime around the year 2025.