You are here: HomeNews2011 06 13Article 210944

Health News of Monday, 13 June 2011

Source: GNA

Government, stakeholders' commitment to Family-Planning not enough -


Saltpond (Central Region), June 9, GNA - Government and other stakeholders' commitment and support to family planning issues has taken a nose-dive in the country, Vice President of the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa, SWAA Ghana, Mrs Elsie Ayeh has observed.

She said the massive support witnessed some years back from government and donors, had dwindled and therefore advocated an increase in funding for reproductive health.

Mrs Ayeh made this known at Saltpond during a health advocacy meeting with District Chief Executives, District Co-ordinating Directors and Planning Officers from Mfantseman Municipal, Ajumako and Abura Asebu Kwamankese District Assemblies in the Central Region at recently.

She expressed concern that family Planning had literally been ignored as a public health priority in Ghana and the programme was increasingly under-funded.

Currently, Family Planning services, she said, were not covered as part of the National Health Insurance Scheme, which explicitly excluded these services from the benefits package when it was launched in 2003.

Family planning, Mrs Ayeh stressed enables women to enjoy improved health, access more educational and employment opportunities, which enhances their social and economic status, improves the well being of their families and promotes overall national development.

Aside from helping to also manage population growth, family planning services reduces exposure to unwanted pregnancies and preventing pregnancy related complications, unsafe abortions, childbirth related complications, some cancers and essentially maternal deaths, she noted.

Mrs Ayeh indicated the number of women using modern methods of Family Panning rose steadily from six per cent in 1988 to 19 per cent in 2003 but reduced to 17 per cent in 2008.

Since constrained budgets fail to cover costs at the facility level, she said, in actual practice all public and private health facilities charge fees for Family Planning services.

Ironically, these health packages now favour more rather than fewer births.

Mrs Ayeh noted that an expanded NHIS coverage for Family Planning would make the medical care costs of additional births zero for couples, who availed themselves of the services, thus providing a positive incentive to reduce average total fertility per woman.

Mrs Aryeh also noted that research information shared with the National Health Insurance Authority, indicated that providing Family Planning free of charge under the NHIS would result in saving 27 million dollars per year to the Scheme by 2017.

A cost-benefit analysis report including long term and permanent contraceptives, as well as injectables in the NHIS package showed this would cause a decrease in fertility and avert births that would otherwise cost the NHIS considerable sums of money leading to annual net savings to the NHIS.

She added that in view of the dwindling donor support, it was critical that the government sooner than later, included Family Planning services in the NHIS to ensure its sustainability for the benefit of Ghanaians.

Mrs Ayeh noted that increased childbirth could lead to a dislocation of current social policies such as Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), free primary schooling, free school feeding, text books and uniforms since the costs would potentially exceed sustainable levels.

She added that in view of Government's aim of quickly address the poverty gap in Ghana through the creation of economic opportunities, wealth generation and proactive policies, it had become imperative that Family Planning was given the attention it deserves.

During an open forum, some staff of the Ghana Health Service, as well as the HIV Focal Persons in the districts lauded the support they have been receiving from the district assembles.

They, however, stressed the need for more support for persons living with HIV, saying micro credit schemes and small business and entrepreneurial skills should be extended to mothers living with HIV and AIDS in other to empower them.