The Executive Director of the National Population Council (NPC), Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah, has called for an increased priority on family planning access through adequate financing as a key strategy to address numerous challenges facing the nation, including healthcare, education, environment, and security.
She made the call during a panel discussion after the launch of the 2023 National Family Planning Week at the La Palm Royal Hotel in Accra. The theme for the event was “Family Planning: My Choice, My Freedom”.
Dr Appiah highlighted the importance of intentional allocation of domestic funding to reproductive health and family planning, akin to investments made in immunization and basic education. She emphasised that this allocation is not just a moral obligation but also a valuable investment that remains relevant over time.
She noted that aligning family planning with national priorities is seen as essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG for family planning aims for universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including family planning, by 2030. Achieving this goal requires sustainable and predictable funding sources, including domestic support.
The NPC Executive Director, therefore, outlined key steps to secure domestic funding as evidence-based gap analysis, where data-driven insights should be used to strengthen advocacy for family planning funding.
“Demonstrating implications is also key. The repercussions of not prioritizing family planning and reproductive health services should be highlighted. Highlighting widespread benefits is also important because emphasizing the extensive advantages of investing in family planning can foster a common vision among stakeholders. There’s a need for global communication. Family planning and reproductive health services should be promoted as universal value investments that transcend cultural differences,” she stated.
Dr Appiah further stressed the significance of funding for clinical family planning services, public education, and staff training across the country. This, she noted, is crucial for ensuring access to services, particularly for individuals with low or no income, and for reducing inequality gaps.
In her view, domestic family planning funding is considered cost-effective and results in savings across various sectors, leading to improved well-being and sustainable development.
Touching on some key benefits of domestic family planning funding, she said it will prevent unintended pregnancies. She indicated it can be achieved by reducing healthcare costs, alleviating the pressure on health workers, and enhancing primary education.
“We can also benefit from it as a nation by reducing STI and HIV spread. Supporting global agendas to reduce mother-to-child transmission and infertility rates, thus reducing the burden on families and the nation. It empowering couples, thereby promoting mental health, happiness, and harmonious households.
“It’ll help in reducing teen pregnancy. This will contribute to better health and educational outcomes for young girls. It will aid in lowering abortions, which will in turn safeguard women’s health and saving costs for families and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Another benefit, she mentioned is, it will result in population management and improve governance and enhance meeting the needs of the populace.
She added that it will also promote healthier mothers and babies, which will lead to a healthier population, increased productivity, lower healthcare costs, and improved well-being.
“It will empower women and girls, which will enhance the workforce and reducing inequalities in opportunities and life outcomes. Domestic family planning funding will aid in bridging inequality gaps to foster human capital development and economic progress.
“Additionally, it will protect the environment. Fewer, healthier children reduce economic and environmental burdens, fostering resilience to climate change. It’ll contribute in promoting socioeconomic development and peace to ensure prosperous nation,” she noted.
To ensure sustainable and predictable domestic funding, Dr Appiah cited the example of the Title X family planning programme in the United States, which has been consistently funded by Congress since 1970, emphasising the critical nature of maintaining access to services, particularly for disadvantaged populations.
She further stressed that prioritising family planning access through adequate financing is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic investment that can lead to improved healthcare, education, environment, and security, ultimately contributing to the nation’s prosperity and well-being.