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Health News of Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Source: GNA

Health network calls for improved access to contraceptive services

Celestina Andoh Celestina Andoh

The Indigenous Women Empowerment Network, a health centred non-governmental organisation has called for improved access to contraceptive services to control rising teenage pregnancies in the country.

It said a wide range of family planning methods and services as well as high-quality counselling services ought to be accessible to young girls and women.

"Many young women in Ghana are not using contraceptives because it is extremely difficult in accessing sexual and reproductive health services in the country", the network said in a statement signed by Ms Celestina Andoh, the Executive Secretary and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Sunyani to mark this year’s International Safe Abortion Day.

The day falls on September 28, every year and is celebrated globally to intensify action in support of the right to safe abortion services and was first celebrated in Latin America in 1990 and has extended across the globe since 2011.

The statement regretted indigenous and unmarried young women and girls who went through stigmatization from health service providers in their desire to access contraceptive service, saying that was contributing to increasing cases of teenage pregnancies.

Ghana recorded 555,575 teenage pregnancies between 2016 and 2020, it said, adding 13,444 girls were between 10 and 14 years.

"Access to comprehensive, confidential and unbiased sexual and reproductive health information and services is a critical part of realizing indigenous young people’s sexual and reproductive rights.

"These fundamental rights are enshrined in various international agreements signed by Ghana, from the broad-ranging 2003 Maputo Protocol to a more focused declaration such as the 2016 Outcome Document of the Seventh Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights", the statement indicated.

It, therefore, called on the government to implement national initiatives that promoted a human rights-based approach to adolescent sexual and reproductive health programming, noting even though the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service has developed policies, protocols and standards that seek to improve the quality of, and access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services corners in the country, there were still some challenges.

"Ghana has also put a strong emphasis on contraceptive services uptake to meet its 2017 pledge at the London Family Planning Conference to increase contraceptive prevalence among sexually active adolescents by three per cent by 2020.

"But meeting the government’s targets for improving young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights requires a better understanding of their needs and behaviours regarding contraception and abortion", it added.

The statement expressed concern about a widening gap in access to essential healthcare and sexual reproductive health services for young women and other marginalised girls in relation to accessing safe abortion services.

It noted "National lockdowns, quarantines and travel bans have made physical access to safe abortion services increasingly challenging since March 2020.

"Every day around the world, 150,000 unwanted pregnancies end in induced abortion. During the lockdown, there has been an increase in both consensual and coerced sex and also an increase in cases of domestic violence and abuse in many countries," the statement said.

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