The National Family Planning week for 2012 has been launched in Tamale in the Northern Region with a call on the youth to adopt the use of contraceptives and other family planning methods.
Mr Alban Bagbin, the Minister of Health who launched the weeklong celebration on Wednesday, expressed worry about the growing increase of the country’s population as a result of inappropriate family planning methods thus increasing the rate of the national population.
The launch which was on the theme; “Making every pregnancy a celebration”, was aimed at improving awareness and acceptance of contraceptive to enable every individual and couple make informed decisions on sexual and reproductive health.
Mr Bagbin whose speech was read for him by the Northern Regional Minister Mr Moses Bukari Mabengba said the Ghana Demographic and health survey in 2008 estimates that contraceptive usage among married women decreased from 19% to 17% translating into 123,000 women at risk of unintended pregnancies.
He said the nation was far from achieving the national target for contraceptive prevalence saying “one-third of our married women in Ghana have unmet needs for family planning…with only contraceptive prevalence rate of 51%”.
The Health Minister said high fertility was strongly associated with child mortality because children born 18 months or fewer months after the birth of a previous sibling will have three times the chance of dying than one born after three year interval.
Mr Bagbin said maternal mortality was the second largest cause of female deaths in Ghana saying that when a woman is too young or too old, has too many children or many closely spaced births, the risk of maternal death equally increases.
Mr Stephen Ackah, Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, said family planning helps slow down population growth and improve development outcomes in virtually every sector of the economy and was a national goal of becoming a middle-income nation.
He said there was the need for Ghana to achieve lower fertility rate to be able to reduce poverty before achieving economic successes and advocated for a well coordinated response to address the challenges of family planning.
Prof Andrew Arkutu, Chairman of the National Population Council in a speech read for him, said almost every minute, a woman dies of complications related to pregnancy and child birth and that accounts for more than 500,000 deaths globally with sub Sahara Africa being the worst hit.
He said the government had shown commitment by signing to international conventions on maternal and child health stressing that the government had therefore committed itself to improving the reproductive health status of its people.