As part of measures aimed at sustaining Ghana’s population growth rate, the National Population Council (NPC) has stressed the need to focus on understanding effective population management and the science around it to address the critical implications of population growth in the country.
This, according to NPC, will not only significantly increase average population health, and bridge inequality gaps within the population, but also improve life expectancy, and facilitate accelerated sustainable development of individuals, communities and the country in general.
The Executive Director of National Population Council, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, made the call during the celebration of the 2022 World Population Day (WPD) in Accra over the weekend. It was dubbed “Prioritising rights and choices; harnessing opportunities, the road to a resilient future for all”.
She said it is key for the entire citizenry to understand the science of effective population management, and respect the timing of conception for optimal outcomes for mother and child.
“Too early, too close, too late and too many births not only increase population growth rate, but are documented to have higher mortalities and morbidities, hence not efficient. To that end, population policies world-wide focus on reducing these pregnancies through a concerted effort of a comprehensive family programme, education and services. Let’s focus on what we need to do in a concerted manner to decisively address this canker to efficiently improve the quality of human capital sustainably for Ghana beyond aid,” Dr Appiah noted.
The NPC Executive Director further reiterated the need for a national campaign to prevent teenage pregnancies, child marriage and unplanned pregnancy.
“Collectively, there’s the need to reduce and subsequently eliminate one of the main barriers in human capital development, teenage pregnancy and child marriage. According to the Ghana Health Service, over 110,000 teenage pregnancies are recorded annually. Whether planned or not, teenage pregnancies have potential complications; they may end up in unsafe abortions and or HIV/AIDS, child abandonment, high mortalities and morbidities with long term sequel,” she stated.
Such situations, she said, had compelled families and communities to deal with high social and financial costs as a social problem, adding that “it increases health care and educational bill, stresses health care workforce and infrastructure, and results in poor educational outcomes and performance”.
To this end, she entreated stakeholders, especially religious leaders, traditional authorities and local government, to create committees to come out with programmes for the implementation of this important national agenda.
“We need to put our hands, hearts and minds into this agenda to help build the nation we so wish to live in. The teenagers are not talking; they are acting more than talking, so they are teaching us what to do. Yes, we must and will talk but we need to take action too,” she stated.
Dr Appiah further indicated that Ghana’s high population growth rate is, in part, supported by high rates of teenage pregnancies, high levels of child marriage and high unmet needs for family planning.
To help reduce the population surge, she stressed the need for leaders to recognise that reproductive health policy remains a vital economic policy.
“Respecting reproductive health rights and choices of all, especially girls and women, should be highly prioritised. Prioritising rights and choices mean providing all with adequate sexual reproductive health information and services to facilitate informed decision making in their fertility choices efficiently for their own good as well as the wellbeing of others,” she explained.
Doing this, in her view, will bridge the inequality and inequity gaps in health, education, employment within and between genders, adding that this is a necessary condition for sustainable development.
Dr Appiah also emphasised the need to tackle family planning head-on because there can never be any “meaningful planning for sustainable growth without planning the family”.
“It is common knowledge that family planning is not just for the wellbeing of families, but is also key to national development because it prevents unwanted pregnancies that produce the high numbers of child mothers who, together with their children, are highly dependent without any employable skills,” she said.