Activities to commemorate Family Planning Week underway

BY: Doreen Andoh
Mr Niyi Ojuolape (inset), Country Director of the UNFPA, addressing the participants. Picture: ESTHER ADJEI 
Mr Niyi Ojuolape (inset), Country Director of the UNFPA, addressing the participants. Picture: ESTHER ADJEI 

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) and its partners have launched activities marking this year's Family Planning Week.

Observed in the month of September every year, the week is used to raise awareness of the proper use and benefits of contraception and the promotion of sexual and reproductive health.

The week, which kick-started in Accra yesterday, is on the theme: “Family planning in the midst of COVID-19”.

Activities lined up include public education on various platforms, such as traditional and social media, community engagements and offering of free family planning commodities and services.

There will also be a focus on demystifying family planning and highlighting its critical role in the socio-economic development of the country.

Challenges

The Director of the Family Health Division of the GHS, Dr Kofi Issah, who launched the week in Accra yesterday, said in spite of the progress made in family planning and population management, some critical challenges, such as unmet need for family planning and low uptake among married women and the youth, still lingered.

He said even though 90 per cent of the people were aware of modern family planning methods, only a few sexually active people, particularly the youth and couples, applied that knowledge.

Dr Issah, however, said high patronage of family planning services would help address the increasing teenage pregnancy rate of about 100,000 annually, as well as unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal deaths and sexually transmitted diseases.

He said it would also help reduce fertility rates and manage population growth in relation to available resources to ensure better development outcomes.

Dr Issah mentioned some of the myths associated with family planning to include the impression created that it was a ploy to limit the number of children a person or a couple could have, infertility and not being ideal for adolescents.

He expressed gratitude to the United Nations Population Fund for its immense financial and technical contribution to the health sector, particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive health, over the years.

Commitment

The Country Representative of the UNFPA, Mr Niyi Ojuolape, said as a sexual and reproductive health organisation, the UNFPA in Ghana was committed to its mission of creating a world where every pregnancy was wanted and every childbirth was safe through its three transformative results of reaching zero unmet need for family planning, zero maternal deaths, among others.

“To demonstrate our commitment, the UNFPA has prioritised family planning over the years and continues to provide 45 per cent of annual contraceptive requirements for public sector family planning healthcare delivery.

“We are also helping to strengthen the already existing partnership with key sexual and reproductive health players by working with a broad-based technical committee to develop, implement and evaluate the country value proposition document that aligns with national priorities, under the government/UNFPA supplies partnership flagship programme,” he added.

Mr Ojuolape said data from the GHS indicated that over 110,000 girls 19 years and below became pregnant in 2020, with 13 teenage pregnancies recorded every one hour, saying: “This poses a threat to human capital development and the fulfilment of the potential of young girls, which the UNFPA is passionate about.”

Some people who have distinguished themselves in the promotion of family planning were honoured for their various roles.

They included the immediate past Deputy Director-General of the GHS, Dr Gloria Quansah-Asare, and the immediate past Deputy Chief Sub-Editor of the Daily Graphic, Ms Rosemary Ardayfio.

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