The week is on the theme: “Family planning in the midst of COVID-19. Take control. It’s an everyday thing.”
Dr Kofi Issah, the Director, Family Health Division, GHS, at the ceremony on Tuesday, said the country had made progress in the total fertility rate and improving the lives of women and families such that within a quarter of a century, total births per woman reduced from 6.4 in 1988 to 4.2 in 2014 as reported in the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS).
He said the 2021 Population and Housing Census also provided further information that household size had reduced from 4.4 in 2010 to 3.6 in 2021, indicating that a lot of progress had been made in the area of family planning and other population strategies.
However, there remains a large unmet need for contraception in the county, saying despite the almost universal knowledge in family planning (over 90per cent), the practice of contraception remained low at 25 per cent married women for modern methods, whilst 62 per cent of sexually active adolescents had an unmet need for family planning.
He said some socio-economic and cultural factors were mainly responsible for the low utilization of available maternal health services, including family planning services.
The fear of side effects, rumours, myths and misconceptions were the most frequently cited reasons for the non-use of modern family planning methods while the poor attitudes of health workers and provider bias were also deterrents to utilization.
Dr Issah said the 2021 celebration was to increase public awareness and acceptance of family planning and to advocate increased commitment to Family Planning as an essential component of national health and socio-economic development.
He said activities would include media and stakeholder engagement meetings, television and radio discussions, provision of free services at selected locations, Health talks to organized groups, Floats and other community mobilization and awareness creation activities.
He encouraged all stakeholders to get on board to deliver the key messages in a client-friendly manner and for communities to forge stronger partnerships with service providers, development partners and others to address the factors contributing to the large unmet need for contraception.
“We have to make this commemoration the turning point in improving access to family planning services as part of our RMNCAH and Nutrition Strategic Plan (2022-2025) and path to Universal Health Coverage,” he said.
Dr Stephen Ayisi-Addo, the Programme Manager, National AIDS and STIs Control Programme, said it was very essential that family planning promotion be continually integrated with all other services such as HIV prevention and control to ensure the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
He said though the COVID-19 pandemic was still around, every experience must be set up to become better, so “we would have to turn the tide against COVID-19,” and work collectively and proactively to mitigate the impact of the disease through innovative ways and pragmatic approaches.
We need to also advance the strategy to prevent unintended pregnancy in specific populations, saying without disaggregating the data, the problem may not be properly identified, he said.
Dr Ayisi-Addo also called for a closer look at the various groups such as those who were vulnerable and encouraged the use of available data such as the DHIMS and other sources to guide planning.
He urged stakeholders to take advantage of the new normal created by COVID-19 to enhance FP advocacy communication and social mobilization to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in line with the UHC target.
Mr Niyi Ojuolape, the UNFPA Country Representative, stated that Family Planning saved lives, prevent unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and lowers the incidence of deaths and disabilities that were related to complications of pregnancy and child birth in the country.
It had also been established that FP empowered women by giving them the right to decide whether and when to have their children which gave them the ability to completely assert their bodily anatomy and called on all partners to remain committed to improving Family Planning in Ghana especially among vulnerable populations and those left furthest behind.