On September 26, 2019, Ghana joined the rest of the world to mark World Contraception Day.
The country joined the celebration in 2011 and extended the celebration into a week-long “Family Planning Week”.
Since then, it has become an annual event for the family planning programme partners.
The celebration offers a good opportunity for the country to reflect on its progress of assisting couples and individuals of all ages to achieve their reproductive goals and improve on their general reproductive health through information and counselling on contraception and other reproductive health services.
Benefits of family planning
Family planning is key to slowing down unsustainable population growth and the resulting negative impacts on the economy, environment, national and regional development efforts.
A major benefit of family planning is its contribution to women and girls empowerment as family planning enables women and girls to increase control over their health and well-being, thereby contributing to the promotion of gender equality.
Over the years, efforts from development partners and government to achieve this objective have seen some significant improvement.
Total Fertility Rate (FP) has declined considerably over the past two decades to a current figure of 3.9 in 2017 (Maternal Health Survey report, 2017).
To sustain these gains, it is imperative to continue to create more awareness and address myths and misconceptions which militate against family planning uptake in the country.
Contraceptive use in Ghana
That family planning is a driver of development has been overstated. This presupposes that the government will do all that it takes and work with partners to attain all the socio-economic, health and gender benefits that FP offers.
Indeed, ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples are essential to secure the well-being and autonomy of women, while supporting the health and development of communities.
Ghana cannot overlook the fact that contraceptive prevalence rates in the country have stagnated over the years with current estimates at 31 per cent according to the 2017, Maternal Health Survey.
Unmet needs for family planning also remains at a high 30 per cent and 62 per cent of adolescents who are sexually active also do not have easy access to family planning services (GDHS 2014).
Reasons for non-use of modern family planning methods include fear and experience of side effects, rumours, myths and misconceptions. Poor attitude of health workers and provider bias are also deterrents to utilisation from the supply side.
A key partner that provides tremendous support to Ghana’s family planning programme is the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The UN agency remains one of the largest procurer of contraceptives to the public sector, contributing annually 35 to 40 per cent of national contraceptive requirements thereby ensuring reliable access to quality modern contraceptives.
UNFPA also supports the Ghana Health Service to build the capacity of health service providers in various FP methods and tooling of health facilities with FP materials and supplies, including social and behavioural change communication materials.
Furthermore, it supports the effective functioning of family planning coordinating mechanisms at national and sub national levels for greater impact of efforts and collaborates closely with government and key stakeholders for inclusive family planning and sexual reproductive health delivery for vulnerable populations including Persons With Disabilities and Kayayei in pursuit of a global agenda of ‘Leaving No One Behind in development’.
UNFPA Representative, Mr Niyi Ojuolape, said the agency’s support to government was to ensure a steady procurement of quality contraceptives, contribute to strengthening the supply chain management system in Ghana, as well as advocate policies supportive of family planning.
“Contraceptives prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the number of abortions and lower the incidence of death and disability related to complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
If all women in Ghana with an unmet need for contraceptives were able to use modern methods, maternal and child deaths would be reduced “ he stated.
‘As the world marks World Contraception Day, the UNFPA encourages married couples and sexually active individuals to make use of the various family planning options available’, Mr Ojuolape said.
The theme for this year’s Family Planning Week celebration: `[email protected]
What has changed’ allows for reflection on the country’s progress since the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA) and to reaffirm the country’s commitments.
Ghana was a key member of the 179 countries that discussed and developed the PoA of the ICPD, which called for universal access to Family Planning/ Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services information and services for all.
Since the country adopted the PoA, there has been significant pragmatic and policy interventions to improve family planning uptake.
In November, this year, governments and partners will gather in Nairobi, Kenya, to review the achievements, challenges and recommit to the implementation of the PoA.
This is the time for Ghana to collaborate with its partners to prioritise and highlight pertinent issues and also solicit stakeholders’ consensus on specific commitments to take to the Nairobi Summit.
Source: Daily Graphic
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