Health News of Tuesday, 27 September 2016


Ghana retards in family planning

Ghana’s progress in the utilisation of family planning methods has stalled for the past years, staying at 22 percent.

The figure, although high as compared to other countries in the sub region, is unlikely to meet the national target for contraceptive prevalence of 50 percent by 2020.

Dr Afisa Zakariah, Chief Director of the Ministry of Health (MoH), speaking at the national launch of the World Contraception Day and Family Planning Week in Accra, pointed out that the figure implies that one in every four women in Ghana has an unmet need for contraception.

“This means that one out of every four of our married women wants to wait for some time to have a child, or they do not want to have any more children, yet they are not using any contraceptive method,” she said.

Dr Zachariah who was representing the sector minister, Alex Segbefia, indicated that using family planning methods have a number of benefits, including reducing maternal and neonatal mortality, unsafe abortion which contributes to 20 percent of all maternal deaths and positive socio-economic benefits to the family and community.

She said family planning does not only deal with pregnancy prevention or delay, but it also includes support for people living with infertility by providing them with counselling and methods to assist them achieve pregnancy.

“Therefore, there is an urgent need to ensure family planning provision and promotion becomes an integral part of all our development efforts in all sectors of government and society,” she added.

Dr Yaa Asante, Programme Manager, Family Planning, Ghana Health Service, presenting an overview of family planning in Ghana, mentioned that there is a fairly general knowledge on contraceptive use, however, people are not accessing the methods because of myths, fear of side effects, religious beliefs, misconceptions and traditional and cultural influences.

She said with the country increasing its population by 700,000 every year, there would be an imbalance and pressure on social and economic activities if the population growth is not checked.

Dr Babatunde Ahonsi, Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), addressing the gathering on behalf of the UN System, said family planning can reduce maternal mortality by 30 percent, indicating that the addition of skilled delivery will prevent over 70 percent deaths among pregnant women.

He added that the UN agency was supporting the week-long activities in the Ashanti and Upper West Regions, adding that there was a need for government to specifically allocate funds for the procurement of contraceptives in the country.

Family Planning Week

The National Family Planning Week is a week-long initiative by the Ghana Health Service and its partners to promote family planning as one of the most cost-effective intervention for improving maternal health and development.

The week will also hold activities to promote the vision of a situation where every pregnancy is wanted and to improve awareness of contraception to enable every individual and couples to make informed decision on their sexual reproductive health.

The week will also be used to highlight the benefits of using family planning methods to families, communities and the country as a whole.

The National Population Council has pegged $154m to meet the country’s family planning needs which is expected to save the country some $349m in future.