Ghana Health Service worried about low contraceptive usage

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Tamale, Sept. 28, GNA – The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has expressed worry about poor patronage of contraceptive and family planning methods across the country, saying that it was the major cause of maternal mortality ratio of which 20 to 30 percent were due to unsafe abortions.

Dr. Frank Nyonator, Acting Director General of the Ghana Health Service, said the family health indicators show a low uptake of family planning services particularly in the northern regions with decreasing acceptor rate of 31% in 2009 to 24.9% in 2010 and relatively the same in 2011.

He attributed the problem to varied and multidimensional factors including low education, traditional and cultural beliefs and said even though the government had shown commitment in tackling family planning, efforts such as creating the enabling policy environment and building on existing structures must be strengthened.

Dr. Nyonator was addressing participants at the launch of the 2012 family planning week celebration in Tamale on Wednesday.

The weeklong celebration was on the theme; “Making every pregnancy a celebration”.

He said women must be empowered to access and obtaining appropriate information on contraceptives and birth spacing methods and behavior change communication strategies would be among some of the interventions to address the demand for family planning methods in Ghana.

Mr. Alban Bagbin, the Minister of Health, said in a speech read for him that worried about the growing increase in the country’s population as a result of inappropriate family planning methods, increasing the rate of the national population and with associated problems.

He 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 away 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 noted that 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 years’ interval.

 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.

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