Addressing these needs would also avert almost 200,000 child deaths over the same period, curb 20,000 deaths per year or 55 deaths everyday in Ghana.
Launching the Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate’s Family Planning-Life Choices Programme, the Minister, whose speech was read for him, said FP was seen as a pivotal service in sexual reproductive and child health as well as survival services, which when addressed would impact on all the Millennium Development Goals, especially those that relate to maternal and child health.
The launch under the theme: “Strengthening Family to Reduce Maternal Mortality,” was organised with the USAID and Behaviour Change Support, an implementing partner in Family Planning.
Mr Ashitey said awareness creation about FP in Ghana was high with almost every mother and father knowing something about it, “but its usage has been our biggest challenge.”
He noted that FP had become a major topical issue over the decade but Ghana’s Demographic and Health Survey report indicated that the use of modern FP methods increased from five percent in 1988 to 10 per cent in 1993, from 13 per cent in 1998 to 19 per cent in 2003.
“Unfortunately, 2008, showed a downward trend of 17 per cent, thus, total fertility rate has declined from six children over the last two decades and the proportion of persons using traditional methods has also not improved.”
Mr Ashitey explained that many countries through the practice of FP have been able to lower their birth rates and impacted positively on their society through great reduction of poverty and improvement of the health of children.
In Ghana, married women who want to space their birth or limit childbearing but are not using any FP method is as high as 35 per cent.
This unmet need is linked to high maternal morbidity and mortality.
The Regional Minister urged Ghanaians to embrace the idea of FP to help reduce maternal and child mortality and help improve the individual, family, society and the nation as a whole.
Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, Director of Family Health of the Ghana Health Service, expressed concern about the misconceptions about the various methods of FP and urged women who need the services not listen to friends.
“You should go to the Clinic yourself, talk to the Public Health professional and get the right information from there,” she urged.
She said the use of the FP methods especially the male and female condoms would not prevent unwanted pregnancies alone but prevent the spread of HIV.
She commended USAID and other partners who have supported them in re-launching the Life Choices programme, which aims at educating the public on FP methods.
Satisfied clients of FP shared their testimonies with the gathering and reiterated the need for all, especially women, to practice FP to improve their lives as well that of their children and the entire family.