THE Government of Ghana/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) sixth country programme (CP6) helped to increase the country’s capacity to deliver comprehensive maternal health services.
This was contained in the findings of an in-depth study of the implementation of the programme spanning the period 2012 to 2017.
It was undertaken from November 2016 through the review of key documents and interviews with partners of the programme at national and decentralised levels. The review is meant to inform the development of the UNFPA/GOG seventh Country programme (CP7), taking into consideration lessons learned from the ongoing programme, the new global and regional development agenda and initiatives and changes within the national context.
At a workshop to validate the findings from the review, the consultants for the programme, Dr Tom Maburu and Dr Ayaga Bawah, noted that the programme responded to the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) objectives and priorities set out in relation to sexual and reproductive health, gender equality and population and development through policy review, advocacy, capacity building and community awareness.
The GSGDA objectives for sexual and reproductive health include improving efficiency in governance and management of the health system by strengthening the enabling environment for Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) activities.
Under gender equality, the objectives are to accelerate efforts and commitments of government in empowering women to have safe and secure livelihoods while addressing disparities in health, and to speed up enforcement and domestication of ratified treaties and policies adopted by government to tackle violence and discrimination.
With regard to population and development, the priorities as set out in the GSGDA is to integrate population variables into development planning, updating demographic data and reposition family planning for national development.
Dr Maburu said the programme ensured family planning commodity security, improved capacity through training of family planning service providers and generated demand through community sensitisation.
Touching on the findings, Dr Maburu said the programme contributed to increased skilled birth attendance through midwifery training, mobilisation of communities to support women access maternal health services, increased male involvement, training of health workers at health facilities and supporting maternal death audits.
The number of midwives also increased from 3,463 in 2012 to 4,763 in 2014.
The Country Programme also strengthened national capacity for the design and implementation of comprehensive age-appropriate sexuality education (CSE) programmes.
Key issues addressed were teenage pregnancy, child marriages, knowledge gaps and sexuality behaviour and sexual and reproductive health rights.
According to Dr Maburu, these programmes contributed to a strengthened policy environment for provision of ASRH services, enhanced capacity of the youth to participate in policy dialogue, delivery of sexuality education to the youth using a variety of strategies.
They also contributed to the capacity to increase demand for modern contraceptives and improve the quality of family planning services by ensuring family planning commodity security, training of service providers and generating demand through community sensitisation.
The Country Director of UNFPA, Dr Babatunde Ahonsi, expressed the hope that the report would provide direction for the areas to focus on in the next country programme.
A key question is how the new global, regional, and national development dispensations are influencing processes in the country and whether new strategic approaches will be necessary.
A key lesson was that with sustained capacity building, decentralised structures can deliver results to the local communities more effectively, compared to the central government system.