Government urged to rightly position family planning in development planning

Christabel Addo/Samira Larbie, GNA

Accra, Sept. 26, GNA – Dr Ismail Ndifuna, the
Chief Technical Specialist for Maternal Health and Family Planning, United
Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has called on the Government to position
family planning at its right place in development planning.

That, he said, would call for attention being
focused on family planning as a development intervention, and on increased
investments in ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health.

Dr Ndifuna was speaking at the launch of the
2018 Family Planning Week and the World Contraceptive Day in Accra on
Wednesday, on the theme: “Family Planning, Everyone’s Responsibility.”  

He said Family Planning was a critical pillar
in the Demographic Dividend Framework as it was a tool for the demographic
transition from high fertility and child mortality to low fertility and reduced
child mortality.

He said health benefits of family planning
were now increasingly getting clearer to policy makers and the general
population, thanks to awareness programmes by government and partners, which
had resulted in reduced maternal and child mortality.

Dr Ndifuna noted that what was perhaps less
appreciated was the recognition of family planning as a human right-including
the right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of children
and the right to have the means to make that decision.

He said to promote family planning as a right
called for investments in the health system including the human resource and
skills to deliver services, ensuring availability of medical technologies,
commodities and supplies including contraceptives and above all the ensuring
the sustainable financing for family planning programmes and universal access
to quality services.

“Currently the fertility rate has gone down,
contraceptive use has increased, antenatal care coverage is universal, skilled
attendance at birth and health facility delivery have gone up,” Dr Ndifuna

Contraceptive prevalence rate, he said, was
also higher in rural areas than in urban areas, an indication that government’s
community-based health planning and services (CHPS) and task shifting policies
were producing positive results.

Dr Ndifuna stated that even though some
successes had been chalked, on the flip side there were challenges that called
for further attention and investment to achieve the government’s own set goals.

He said at 34 per cent, unmet needs for family
planning was still very high, while geographical disparities in access still
existed, and in essence pulling down governments overall gains.

“We are still grappling with quality of care
issues, which, if not well addressed, will continue frustrating family planning

He said clinical methods of family planning
were still not covered in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS),
increasing out of pocket expenditures and decreasing access.

He said the marginalised groups, including
people with disabilities, had critical access, which were still not addressed.

“We still need to ‘up the game’ in
accountability for results, for resources and for rights. We need to ‘up the
game’ in monitoring, tracking, and delivering on the family planning 2020
commitments made by government in London in 2012 and reaffirmed at the 2017
London summit,” he stated.

Dr Ndifuna said there was the need to
consistently make the point to decision makers, including the Ministry of
Finance, that investment in family planning had a multiplier effect across all
the Sustainable Development Goals, and to demonstrate this benefit if
necessary, through scientific modelling.

He pledged the commitment of the UN Systems in
Ghana to presenting a ‘One programme’ that encompasses the entirety of its

He said this programme would be implemented
through annual joint work plans agreed with ministries and agencies and carried
out with implementing partners in government, civil society, and other

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General
of the Ghana Health Service, launched the celebrations to officially begin a
weeklong- activities by several stakeholders across the country.

The celebrations aim at increasing public
awareness and highlighting the benefits of family planning not only to the
individual but to families, communities and the country as a whole.


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