The Director of the Family Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Kofi Issah, has rehashed that despite the high knowledge and education on family planning, myths and misconceptions remain a contributing factor to the low patronage of maternal health services, including family planning, at the health facilities. He made this statement during the event to commemorate World Contraceptive Day and the launch of the 2023 National Family Planning Week in Accra under the theme ‘Family Planning, My Choice, My Freedom’. Dr. Issah also entreated health workers to embed themselves in family planning messaging and called for upskilling health workers’ attitudes in providing family planning services.

The Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Wilfred Ochan, indicated in a submission that the Sustainable Development Goals affirm that the basic human right to choose and decide freely and responsibly the timing, number, and spacing of children is essential to the development of families and the government of every nation. He added that a 2022 study conducted by the UNFPA estimates that for every dollar invested in family planning, the return on investment to families and societies is US$8.40, and further estimates that from 2022 to 2030, development countries will need to spend an additional US$79 billion to end unmet needs for family planning and preventable maternal deaths. Dr. Ochan noted that family planning is the foundation for sexual and reproductive health and rights, with multiplier effects on education, skills and work, gender equality, and health. He also applauded Ghana for including family planning in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) package as it will expand access and avail different options to clients.

Speaking on behalf of development partners, Dr. Frank Lule, health advisor for the Multi-Country Assignment Team at the World Health Organization, emphasized that ‘the declaration of family planning as a basic human right 55 years ago enabled women and girls to have the right to avoid exhaustion, depletion, and danger of too many pregnancies and pregnancies that are too close together’. Globally, the proportion of women of reproductive age who have employed family planning contraceptive methods has only increased by 10% since 1990. This marginal increase is attributable to the unavailability of services, gender-based barriers, provider bias, misinformation and disinformation, among other challenges.  He called for a concerted effort from all men, health workers, religious and traditional leaders, as well as the government to empower women to freely decide the number of pregnancies and the spacing of birth. Dr Lule assured that the health sector development partners will continue to support the government of Ghana in financing family planning.

Mr. George Akanlu, the Country Representative for MSI-Ghana, on behalf of the Inter-agency Coordination Committee on Contraceptive Security (ICC/CS), stated that one (1) in every four (4) women has an unmet need for family planning, which according to Mr. Akanlu, are associated with unwanted pregnancy, maternal death rates and all the complications, which take a toll on women’s health and mental wellness. He added that overcoming barriers and inequalities that limit women’s rights is the only way to achieve true freedom with family planning.  He pledged the support of the Inter-Agency Committee to ensure the delivery of the sexual and reproductive health commitments made by the government by 2030. The event was also used as a platform to engage, at a high level, an advocacy dialogue on domestic financing for family planning. The dialogue session was to help understand the current family planning financing landscapes and to identify options for increasing domestic resource mobilization for family planning.

Source: Public Relations Unit