Dr. Kofi Issah, the Director of the Ghana Health Service’s Family Health Division, has reiterated that myths and misconceptions about family planning continue to contribute to the low uptake of maternal health services, including family planning, in healthcare facilities, even in spite of the high level of knowledge and education on the topic. During the celebration of World Contraceptive Day and the opening of the 2023 National Family Planning Week in Accra, with the theme “Family Planning, My Choice, My Freedom,” he made this declaration. Additionally, Dr. Issah urged healthcare professionals to become experts in family planning and advocated for improving their attitudes toward delivering family planning services.
In a submission, Dr. Wilfred Ochan, the UNFPA’s Country Representative, stated that the Sustainable Development Goals uphold the fundamental human right to freely and responsibly choose when, how many, and how soon to have children, as this is crucial to the growth of families and the governance of all countries.
He continued by stating that a UNFPA study from 2022 estimates that the return on investment for families and societies from family planning is US$8.40 for every dollar invested. The study also projects that between 2022 and 2030, developing nations will need to spend an additional US$79 billion to address unmet family planning needs and avoidable maternal deaths. Family planning, according to Dr. Ochan, is the cornerstone of sexual and reproductive health and rights, and it has a multiplier effect on gender equality, education, employment, and skills. Additionally, he commended Ghana for incorporating family planning within the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) package, which would increase client access and provide them with more alternatives.
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, stated on behalf of the Inter-agency Coordination Committee on Contraceptive Security (ICC/CS), that one (1) in every four (4) women has an unmet need for family planning, which, according to Mr. Akanlu, is associated with an unwanted pregnancy, maternal death rates, and all the complications that 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, in an advocacy dialogue on domestic financing for family planning. The purpose of the dialogue session was to help understand the current family planning financing landscape and identify options for increasing domestic resource mobilization for family planning.