2021 National Family Planning week celebrations launched

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Dr. Kofi Issah, the Director, Family Health Division, Ghana Health Service (GHS), Tuesday, said the country has made progress in the total fertility rate and the lives of women and families.

He said within a quarter of a century, total births per woman reduced from 6.4 in 1988 to 4.2 in 2014 as reported in the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS).

Dr. Issah disclosed this at the launch of the 2021 National Family Planning Week in Accra, on the theme: “Family planning in the midst of COVID-19. Take control. It’s an everyday thing”, to create awareness and mobilise support for shaping the future.

He said the 2021 Population and Housing Census also provided further information that household size had reduced from 4.4 in 2010 to 3.6 in 2021, indicating that a lot of progress had been made in the area of family planning and other population strategies.

However, there remains a large unmet need for contraception in the county, saying despite the universal knowledge in family planning the practice of contraception remained low at 25per cent of married women for modern methods, whilst 62 percent of sexually active adolescents had an unmet need for family planning.

He said some socio-economic and cultural factors were mainly responsible for the low utilization of available maternal health services, and family planning services were no exception to this.

The fear of side effects, rumours, myths, and misconceptions were the most frequently cited reasons for non -use of modern family planning methods, while the poor attitudes of health workers and provider bias were also deterrents to utilization and efforts were being made to address this.

He said activities for the launch include media and stakeholder engagement meetings, television and radio discussions, Provision of free services at selected locations, Health talks to organized groups, Floats, and other community mobilization and awareness creation activities.

“We have to make this commemoration the turning point in improving access to family planning services as part of our RMNCAH and Nutrition Strategic Plan (2022-2025) and path to Universal Health Coverage,” he said.

Dr. Stephen Ayisi-Addo, the Programme Manager, National AIDS and STI s Control Programme, said it was very essential that family planning promotion be continually integrated with all other services such as HIV prevention and control to ensure the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

He said though the COVID-19 pandemic was still around, every experience must be set up to become better, so “we would have to turn the tide against COVID-19,” and work collectively and proactively to mitigate the impact of the disease through innovative ways and pragmatic approaches.

We need to also advance the strategy to prevent unintended pregnancy in specific populations, saying without disaggregating the data, the problem may not be properly identified, he said.

Dr. aysi-Addo also called for a closer look at the various groups such as those who were vulnerable and encouraged the use of available data such as the DHIMS and other sources to guide planning in line with all strategic plans.

Mr. Niyi Ojuolape, the UNFPA Country Representative, stated that FP saves lives, prevents unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, and lowers the incidence of deaths and disabilities that were related to complications of pregnancy and childbirth in the country.

It had also been established that FP empowered women by giving them the right to decide whether and when to have their children which gave them the ability to completely assert their bodily anatomy, and called on all partners to remain committed to improving FP in Ghana especially among vulnerable populations and those left furthest behind.

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