A madien media contest on population and development journalism has been launched in Accra.
The awards are intended to increase media reportage on population, family planning and its related issues.
Submissions would be opened from December 1, this year to June 30, 2019 and the awards would be held in July, 2019 to climax the World Population Day.
According to the Executive Director of the National Population Council (NPC), Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, the ultimate aim of the awards is to celebrate and recognise the best of population and development reporting across the country “which convey relevant information on population and development to the people of Ghana.
She encouraged journalists and media practitioners to report more on population and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) issues to enable them to win any of the categories in the contest. ”
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Dr Appiah said the NPC and its partners would be engaging the media on a regular basis to help in the dissemination of information on population and development from an informed position.”
She called on the government to prioritise funding for SRHR education in the country to prevent unintended pregnancies and improve maternal and child health in the country.
“We can either invest in reproductive health information and services and reap the dividends or ignore it and continue to bear the expenditure of unintended pregnancies, both in the short and long-terms,” she said.
Dr Appiah said 90 per cent of all adolescent pregnancies in 2017 ended up in unsafe abortions, stressing that such pregnancies and abortions could have been prevented if the victims had access to information on SRHR.
She emphasised that the full value of investing in sexual and reproductive health services had really been underestimated in the country, saying “We need to intentionally prioritise funding for SRHR because we cannot be neutral; we are either part of the solution or part of the problem.”
She explained for instance that “Adolescent childbearing has remained at almost 14 per cent since 2003 with 50 per cent of married adolescents not using any form of modern contraception.”
The Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), Mrs Abena Acheampong, said the awards would serve as a motivation to journalists to report on population and SRHR issues in the country.
According to her, issues on population and SRHR had been underreported in the country probably due to the lack of information and understanding of it by journalists and media practitioners.
She said issues on population and SRHR affected every aspect of the country’s development, hence the need to educate the public on them.
Mrs Acheampong noted that the PPAG would continue to partner the NPC and other relevant stakeholders to disseminate information and educate the Ghanaian public on issues on population and SRHR.
The Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who officially launched the awards scheme, said population issues were of great importance to the government, as government programmes and policies were all tied to the population of the country.
He, therefore, urged the media to continue to serve as agents of development by highlighting issues that affected the very existence of the citizenry.
“The best journalist is the one who looks out for stories that the society must hear,” he said, pledging the support of the government towards the organisation of the awards.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah also called on corporate bodies, both public and private to support the organisation of the award since population affected every business, saying “consider it (this media contest) as your Corporate Social Responsibility.”