COVID-19 also threatening Sexual Reproductive Healthcare – Dr. Leticia Appiah

The Executive Director of National Population Council, Dr. Leticia Appiah has noted that COVID-19 is highlighting the imbalance in Sexual Reproductive Healthcare delivery.
Speaking at the launch of World Population Day on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, she noted that COVID-19 has exposed the weak health systems which cripple women’s development.

“COVID-19 has indeed exposed the lack of equity and fairness in our societies and widening the inequality gap… Healthy and empowered women can bring about the change needed to create a sustainable future for all.”

Speaking on the theme “Putting the brake on COVID-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now”, she explained that COVID-19 is threatening to derail measures to attain “Zero Maternal Deaths, Zero Unmet Need for Family Planning and Zero Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices targets, which are necessary for meeting our SDG goals and in our Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda.”

But Dr. Leticia Appiah further assured the general public that the NPC and its partners are working hard to save the gains made in ensuring that the Sexual Reproductive Health Rights stay on the local agenda.

“As a nation, the NPC and its partners are committed to safeguarding the hard-fought gains and ensuring that Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and services stay on the local agenda to enlist societal and political wills in maintaining the momentum towards achieving the SDGs by 2030 and develop Ghana beyond Aid.”

Below is her full speech at the launch

REMARKS BY DR. LETICIA ADELAIDE APPIAH ON THE
PRESS BRIEFING ON THE 2020 WORLD
POPULATION DAY CELEBRATION

Good morning
Country Representative, UNFPA
Country Director, Marie Stopes international
And all other distinguished partners present
The Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

The National Population Council warmly welcomes you all to the pre-launch of the 2020 World Population Day Celebration. Each year, the celebration offers National Population Council (NPC) and its partners the opportunity to raise awareness on emerging population issues confronting humanity. It is a time to assess how well society honors its citizens by meeting their needs and well- being across everyone’s life course and across generations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the theme for this year’s celebration is “Putting the brake on COVID-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now”.

Globally, the pandemic is threatening to derail many efforts including efforts to achieve Zero Maternal Deaths, Zero Unmet need for Family Planning and Zero Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices targets, which are necessary in meeting our SDG goals and in our Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda.

As a nation, the NPC and its partners are committed to safeguarding the hard-fought gains and ensuring that Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and services stay on the local agenda to enlist societal and political wills in maintaining the momentum towards achieving the SDGs by 2030 and develop Ghana beyond Aid.

According to the 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey, the Maternal Mortality Ratio is estimated at 310 deaths per 100,000 live births (i.e. 12 per cent of deaths among women in Ghana is due to maternal causes). In relation to unmet need for family planning, almost one out of three married women who want to space or limit the number of children they want to have is not using any family planning method leading to many unintended and mistimed pregnancies.

More so, more than 50 percent of the population are females and 16.1 percent are young females aged 10-24. Some of these women and girls have been abused and their human rights violated in several ways. Over 40 percent of women who are married or living together with their partners have had any form of social violence or physical violence; 30.1 per cent with various forms of sexual violence. It must be noted that these figures were higher in rural areas as compared to urban areas. On the average, women who marry before age 18 is 19 percent higher in the Northern and Upper East regions and lowest in Greater Accra region.

In this wave of COVID-19 pandemic, population issues are also influencing the outcome of our livelihoods and thus should no longer be ignored.COVID-19 has indeed exposed the lack of equity and fairness in our societies and widening the inequality gap. The pandemic has presented the world a chance to address the imbalance to build strong and resilient health system and equitable development of all including women and girls. Healthy and empowered women can bring about the change needed to create a sustainable future for all.

Ladies and gentlemen, how do we as a nation safeguard the health and rights of our women and girls in order to achieve the SDGs by 2030 without engaging the media?

We need the help of the MEDIA to create and maintain awareness on sexual and reproductive health needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls during the pandemic and beyond. Also, advocate for the continuity of SRHR and Sexual and Gender Based Violence services in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. We need to focus on the harm such practices cause and the benefits we seek to realize from abandoning them. We cannot achieve these lofty goals alone since public health needs all hands-on deck. Therefore, I urge all stakeholders to come together to safeguard the health rights of women and girls now.

Thank you.

by Ernest Arhinful – July 8, 2020

Media urged to maintain awareness on reproductive health needs of women

The National Population Council (NPC), has called for media support to create and maintain awareness on sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, the Chief Executive of NPC, said it was important for the country to remain committed to safeguarding hard-fought gains in promoting Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) of women and girls and keep the issues on the local agenda during the pandemic.

Dr Appiah who made the call at an event to pre-launch the 2020 World Population Day celebrations in Accra with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said that was the only way to maintain the momentum towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and ensuring Ghana beyond aid.
World Population Day is observed every July 11 to raise awareness on population issues.

This year’s celebration is on the theme; “Putting the Brakes on COVID-19 to raise awareness of global population issues: How to Safeguard the Health and Rights of Women and Girls Now”.

The celebration will raise awareness on the three transformative goals of; zero maternal deaths, zero unmet needs for family planning as well as zero sexual and Gender Based Violence and harmful practices.

Dr Appiah noted that almost one out of three married women who wanted to space or limit the number of children to have was not using any family planning method leading to many unintended and mistimed pregnancies and asked the media to help preach the advantages of family planning.

She said in the wake of the pandemic, population issues were also influencing outcome of livelihoods and must no longer be ignored.

Dr Appiah recounted challenges COVID-19 had exposed women and girls to and called for the need to advocate the continuity of SRHR and Sexual and Gender Based Violence services.

Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, said the Service by way of controlling population had mainstreamed family planning services and also extended its scope by using Community Health nurses to reach the vulnerable.

He said family planning was placed on the National Health Insurance on a pilot to offer services for free in some areas.

Dr Agnes Ntibanyurwa, the UNFPA Deputy Country Director, called on government to put in place measures to ensure the achievement of the formative goals target, which were necessary in meeting the SDG goals.

Ms Patricia Antwi-Boasiako, the Deputy Director Operations and Advocacy Marie Stopes Ghana, pledged to support the NPC and called for the need to prioritise and invest in the health of women and girls.

She underscored the need to increase local funding, specifically budgetary allocation to health, with clear lines of a good percentage to adolescent reproductive health issues.

“Our ability to achieve the SDGs in 10 years, to safeguard the future of our girls and ensure our development gains are indeed progressive and sustainable depends largely on the investments we make today as a country,” she stated.

By Ghana News Agency

Jul 8, 2020

Population Council, Marie Stopes discuss Media’s role in addressing Reproductive Health and the SDGs

The National Population Council (NPC) has called for media partnership in intensifying advocacy and education on Adolescent, Sexual, and Reproductive Health (ASRH) in the country.

 

According to the NPC, Sexual and Reproductive Health issues had direct links to all the 17 goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and when addressed properly, could lead to the achievement of the quality life for all Ghanaians by the year 2030.

Dr. Leticia Appiah, the Executive Director of NPC, in soliciting the support of the media at an Editor’s forum stressed that despite efforts to address the ASRH, the impact have not been as expected.

 

According to her lack of sustainable financing, low education, lack of timely information, poor access to available services such as family planning, stigmatisation and the negative attitudes of service providers, especially towards ASRH rights and needs have contributed to this.

The forum, which was jointly organised by the NPC and Marie Stopes International, Ghana, was to create a platform for discussions with the media on their role in addressing ASRH issues and the attainment of the SDGs.

She noted that teenage pregnancy was still unacceptably high among girls at the basic school level leading to increased dropout rates, especially in rural Ghana.

The media had influential powers for enhancing education, effecting cultural change of negative practices, and pushing for political support and policy implementation, for adequate resources to address ASRH issues, she said.

Dr. Appiah said with Ghana’s current population being predominantly youthful, the country could not afford to leave anyone behind, but to ensure that their needs were holistically addressed to ensure national development.

Esi Asare Prah, a Representative of Marie Stopes International, Ghana, said adolescents lacked the recognition needed to make informed choices and decisions regarding their ASRH and rights.

She said this led to consequences such as unwanted pregnancies, high maternal mortalities and morbidity due to unsafe abortions.

“Ghana cannot achieve gender equality when about 7,000 girls are dropping out of school at the basic and secondary level, which is dangerous to achieving sustainable development for the next generation,” she said, adding that it had the tendency to derail all efforts at attaining the SDGs.

According to Ghana’s 2014 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), about 14% of antenatal attendants were adolescents aged between 15 and 19 years.

“We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect different results,” she said, and urged the media to devote much attention to amplifying simple and clear information on the ASRH issues to effect a change in the attitudes of service providers.

Professor Augustine Ankomah, the Country Director of the Population Council, described reproductive health as the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but also in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes.

He spoke on the truth, myth and misconceptions relating to ASRH, saying studies had shown that more girls in the rural areas in Ghana were having sex earlier than their counterparts in urban centres.

The studies also showed that those girls were often from poor families hence their vulnerability, and said it was the reason why timely information and education was critical to ensuring delayed sexual intercourse and pregnancy among adolescents.

Madam Cecilia Senoo, the Executive Director, Hope for Future Generation, said achieving the SDGs would be a mirage if efforts were not doubled, and called for more action than talk.

Source: Kofi Ahovi || businessweekghana.com

BARAKA POLICY INSTITUTE 6TH ANNUAL DEVELOPMENT LECTURES ON GHANA 2020 POPULATION CENSUS

 

A MESSAGE DELIVERED BY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL POPULATION COUNCIL, DR LETICIA ADELAIDE APPIAH

 

THEME: THE COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITY FACTOR

Introduction

I will begin by extending my heartfelt appreciation to the Conveners of the Baraka Policy Institute for the invitation extended to me as a Special Guest of Honour to this sixth BPI Annual Development Lectures. As the Executive Director of the National Population Council, I am of the firm believe that this platform provide a very important opportunity for us deliberate on the role of the community as a major stakeholder in the 2020 Population Housing Census. Population and Housing Census was first held in 1891 in Ghana, and have since been conducted every ten years with the exception of 1941 due to interruption by the World War II, but was held seven years after in 1984 (Ghana – Population and Housing Census 2000 – IHSN Survey Catalog). Census data, just like other surveys, are important starting points for development issues, and I am always extremely passionate about platforms such as this, to mainstream them into our national development discourse.

 

The Community/ Policy Development Factor

The Ghanaian populace have been an integral part of this exercise over these years, and I believe the 2020 Census will not be an exception. Indeed this is a very important national exercise which all citizens must take seriously and participate in fully. Census data have served as a baseline and a leading source of statistical information about the citizenry, hence the slogan, “Everyone Counts, Get Counted”.  The value of accurate census data to the public cannot be over emphasised. Relying on accurate data goes beyond the simple fact of how many people live here. Policy makers have recognised that accurate census can provide other valuable information to improve the policy process. Policy makers at all levels of government as well as private businesses, household, researchers use census data.

Governments by the use of population data and its characteristics, are able to target and distribute resources toward a wide range of socio-economic developments at the local community level. It also serves an important tool for evidence based decision making, and shapes investment decisions by private businesses and builds confidence in the government and the economy. Census data is used in assessing economic well-being, assisting families and low-income populations the elderly, the physically challenged or disabled and in some cases veterans.

Accurate census data is critical to local government agencies such as; boards of schools, hospitals, etc. in determining their needs (e.g. Basic schools, JHS, SHS etc.). Accurate data is crucial for better planning and implementation, including educational training and provision of health services etc.

 Business Factor

Accurate census data provides information on where people of different ages live, and helps businesses of all kinds to develop and market their products. (e.g. baby food, clothing and diapers). It helps provide relevant information for the provision of needs such as; large family amusement parks, TV programs for children, real estate needs and many more. Accurate census information on language spoken at home helps TV and radio stations define language service area and develop products and services tailored for those who speak languages other than English.

 Forecast Demand Factor

Businesses uses Census data in forecasting demand, and thereby supplying products required by communities. This helps in making location decisions, and where to cite which type of business. This data also provides businesses with the required information to venture and invest in profitable sectors of the economy having in mind the availability of utilities etc. Disaster relief when planning or responding to disaster both at the individual and community level is enhanced by the availability, interpretation and use of census data.

 

Conclusion

It is therefore, important that as Ghana prepares to conduct the 2020 Population and Housing Census, all stakeholders, especially the citizenry are well informed and encouraged to cooperate and participate in the enumeration exercise in order to achieve the desired outcome.   Indeed I believe that, with the required support given, the slogan of “Everyone Counts, Get Counted” will be achieved.