Dr Frank Nyonator, Acting Director-General of Ghana Health Service on Tuesday said to improve maternal health and attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Family Planning (FP) would remain a priority on the national development plan.
He said though FP was not the panacea to problems of the country, there was a compelling evidence of its importance to address MDGs 1,4,5,6 and 7, which address poverty, child health, maternal mortality and reproductive health, combat HIV and AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis as well as addressing the issue on environment respectively.
Dr Nyonator said this at the launch of the first ever Family Planning Awareness Week on the theme: “Contraceptives: Your Right to Information”, which coincided with World Contraception Day.
It seeks to increase public awareness and acceptance of family planning and to advocate increased commitment to FP as an essential component of national health and socio-economic development.
The week-long activity is supported by partners of reproductive health which include National Population Council, the United Nations Fund for Population Activity (UNFPA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UK Department for International Development (DFID), African Women’s Development Fund, Marie Stopes International, Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), Ghana AIDS Commission and Bayer Schering.
Dr Nyonator explained that FP had many socio-economic benefits that improved quality of life of the people slowing population growth for optimal socio-economic development.
He said Ghana’s Demographic Health Survey Report (2008) revealed that despite the decrease in Total Fertility Rate of four per cent, 13 per cent of adolescents were giving birth reflecting the lack of quality FP services to a very important and needy section of the population.
Dr Nyonator called for the need to see FP as a crucial intervention to attain national and global health and development goals.
Dr Stephen Kwakye, Executive Director of National Population Council said FP was projected to make towards the attainment of all eight MDGs, and reminded all Ghanaians of the importance needed to be placed on FP.
“We need to disabuse our minds on the misconceptions about family planning and to seek accurate information and services from the right sources and providers. This way, we will assist in freeing scarce resources at both the national and individual levels for the qualitative development of the human population and I think all of us as individuals have important contributions to make in the interest of the development of mother Ghana,” he added.
Dr Bernard Coquelin, UNFPA Country Representative, said contraceptives if well utilized could reduce maternal mortality by one-third but there was the evidence that Ghana’s contraceptive prevalence rate had declined from 19 per cent in 2003 to 17 per cent in 2008 while the unmet need for FP was 34 per cent.
He urged stakeholders to find suitable ways of generating resources to procure contraceptives, adding “By this we will be contributing meaningfully to reducing maternal mortality and achieving economic gains as we gain four dollars on every dollars spent contraceptives”.