Ghana measures progress on Family Planing 2020
Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu, the Deputy Minister of Health, on Tuesday said Ghana is on track to meeting her commitment made to the global partnership towards empowering women and girls by investing in access to Family Planning Services.
Delivering the keynote address at the opening of a two-day tracking event of Ghana’s progress towards Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) commitments in Accra, Mr Aboagye Gyedu said the country had done creditably in increasing the number of modern contraceptive users through improved methods and access to Family Planning (FP) services.
He said the number of women using modern contraceptive methods had increased from 422,000 in mid-2017 to 525,000 by the middle of 2018, an advancement, which had shot the country’s usage prevalence to 22.1 per cent from the previously 21.1 per cent.
This, he said, helped in the reduction of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and further averted maternal and child deaths.
The joint Ghana Health Service (GHS) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) collaborative event, dubbed: “The Countdown to 2020: Ghana’s Journey,” therefore brought together a wide range of stakeholders including Civil Society Organisations and development partners, to share experiences and showcase innovative works of various actors towards the attainment of the global commitment on FP2020.
The Deputy Health Minister commended stakeholders and partners for their commitment through which access to FP services and commodities had recorded a gradual but consistent improvement in the usage of modern methods of contraceptives among women and girls in their reproductive age range, thereby decreasing the fertility rate of the country.
He, however, urged stakeholders not to relent on their efforts but to join hands to increase the momentum towards meeting the national and global FP2020 targets, as huge gaps still existed in the area of unmet needs for modern contraceptive usage among married women.
Mr Aboagye Gyedu explained that the country had, since it commitment at the 2012 FP2020 London Summit, and subsequent renewal of those promises at a similar meeting on Family Planning in 2017, made significant strides in making services and methods available to all, by establishing a legislative instrument to include FP in services provided under its National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 2017.
The country has also made these services and contraceptives free of charge in the public health facilities, however this was being piloted in about eight districts in close collaborations with key stakeholder and partners.
Challenges such as the lack of data on domestic expenditure on the purchases of contraceptive FP commodities due to the absence of an expenditure budget was, however, an impediment to the progress of work.
Again there was the challenge with the gap between first initiation to sex and the age of marriage, which called for critical education to capture this group to ensure the holistic provision of access to FP services to all adolescents.
Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, the Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, said participants were expected to learn from each other as they calibrated the path towards improving access to, and uptake of, FP and meet the national and global targets.
She noted that achieving the global FP2020 and other country specific goals were critical milestones to ensuring access to universal Sexual and Reproductive Health services and rights by 2030, as laid down in SDGs Three and Five.
She said it was important for all women, no matter where they lived, to have access to life-saving contraceptives adding that contraceptive usage among married women had been found to be low despite the knowledge of at least one contraceptive method.
Dr Quansah-Asare called for an intensified education and improved investment to accelerate progress towards achieving Ghana’s commitment.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director of the Family Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, who gave and overview of the FP2020, said Ghana was making headway in its modest commitment towards achieving the FP2020 targets of ensuring that 120 more women were reached with modern contraceptive methods.
He called for strengthened collaboration to addressing the challenges and build the capacities of service providers for effective service delivery.
Mr Niyi Ojuolape, the UNFPA Country Representative, commended the Government for putting in place guidelines such as the Population Policy, Reproductive Health Service Policy and Standard, the Adolescent Reproductive Health Policy and Standards, the Reproductive Health Commodity Security (2011-2016), the National Condom and Lubricant Strategy and Market Segmentation Analysis for Family Planning.
He said despite the gains made, militating factors such as myths and misconceptions of FP methods, inadequate partner support, as well as the limited number of health providers to provide full complement of the FP method mix, and also poor financing for commodities were some of the factors challenging the significant improvements in FP.
He said UNFPA continued to procure 35 to 40 per cent of FP and other reproductive health commodities yearly to support health care delivery and would bring together key FP partners to collectively advance the FP2020 agenda.
He reiterated the unwavering commitment of the UNFPA to support the government, the Ministry of Health and GHS to meet the milestones under the various commitments by 2020, and urged stakeholders to join to strengthen the partnership.