Counsel women on family planning during antenatal, postnatal care visits

BY: Gertrude Ankah Nyavi

The Deputy Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), Ms Dannia Gayle, has advised health practitioners to make optimum use of both antenatal and postnatal care visits to counsel women on the need for family planning and also give them access to contraceptives.

She said since the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey of Ghana indicated that 78 per cent and over 70 per cent of Ghanaian women attend both antenatal and postnatal care clinics respectively, health practitioners need to educate these women on the various family planning methods and options.

She gave the advice during an interview with the Daily Graphic, at a training workshop organised by the UNPFA, in collaboration with Media Foundation for West 

Africa and the Media Communication Advocacy Network in Accra, to educate journalists on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Unmet needs of family planning
Touching on the unmet needs of family planning in Ghana, the Deputy UNFPA Country Representative emphasised that, such visits must serve as an avenue for reducing the unmet needs of contraceptives in the country.

Women who have an unmet need for contraceptives arise when those who want to delay or stop childbearing do not get access to contraceptive.

“You have 78 per cent of women attending antenatal care. When a woman is pregnant, she goes to a health facility and she is seen by a health practitioner. It means that during those four or more visits, that health practitioner has a strategic opportunity to speak to that woman about family planning. That cannot be a missed opportunity,” she said.

She said the post-natal care visits of around 70 per cent also meant that after the woman delivered, she still went to the health facility and was seen by a health practitioner, and as such, that woman should not leave the facility without having a conversation about family planning and without being offered the opportunity to start using a family planning method.

Ms Gayle said it was unfortunate that 85 per cent of contraceptives procured in the country were donor funded, and cautioned that it will be disastrous for Ghana should donors such as the UNPFA, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and West African Health Organisation (WAHO) decide to pull out.