World Population Day: Support, empower adolescents in fight against teenage pregnancies

Wenchi Municipal Public Health director, Abigail Ofosuhemaa Asamoah

 Parental control and support are critical components in the fight against teenage pregnancies in the Wenchi Municipality of the Bono Region.

Some 750 cases have so far been recorded in the first half of 2019, a situation the Wenchi Municipal Public Health director, Abigail Ofosuhemaa Asamoah describes as worrying.

She told Joy News, on the sidelines of a World Population Day event at Amponsakrom, in Wenchi, that, besides taking their services to the homes of these teenagers, the cooperation of parents and the empowering of the adolescent will help curb the rising number of teenage mothers in the municipality.

She said some pregnant students, including two nursing mothers, took part in the 2019 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in Wenchi.

“The education is ongoing but we have to intensify it. We will need much support from the parents since some are directly or indirectly push their girls into such immoral sexual acts due to money. And besides the parent’s cooperation in curbing the alarming situation, the adolescent herself needs to be empowered to be able to make the right decisions for herself,” she stressed.

The regional population day programme at Wenchi Amponsakrom aimed at drawing the attention of the people on the need and the urgency to think about population growth and its impacts on development.

The event which was under the theme; Reproductive health and gender equality also afforded the youth the chance to appreciate the dangers and challenges associated with unplanned childbirth.

Ghana has an estimated population of 30.42 million. And the youth are significantly contributing to the population growth rate in the country which currently stands at 2.5%.

In the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions, teenage pregnancies increased from 13% in 2008 to 17% in 2017. This is attributed to factors such as broken homes, lack of education and early marriages.

Such unplanned childbirths add to the regional and national population growth thereby affecting developments.

“But the existing structures such as school building, health facilities to support them are not enough because we are not adding on to the structures as compared to the number of human beings we are adding on every year,” Regional population officer, Davies Aboagye said.

Mr Aboagye noted that though government is spending more to provide infrastructure to improve the quality of life of the people, the growing number makes the situation difficult for both government and individual families.

Fadila Kansaana, a 14-year-old form 2 student of Amponsakrom Junior High School explained to Joy News Bono Regional Correspondent, Precious Semevoh that, poverty, lack of parental control and peer influence drives some of her friends to become pregnant at such young ages.

She said some boys offer them food as well as money for their upkeep to complement the insufficient support from their parents. 

“Our problem in the community is that one day he will ask sex from you and you will have nothing to say than to give in to the sexual act leading to unwanted pregnancies”.

Assemblyman for Amponsakrom, Peter Yelkoro Chottah said activities of drinking bar operators in the night must be checked since that remains the excuse to lure the adolescent out at night. 

Wenchi Municipal Chief Executive Officer, Dr Prince Kwakye Afriyie, however, called on the chiefs to pass a by-law to regulate some activities in the various communities that breeds immoral behaviours.

Dr Afriyie also encouraged stakeholders including religious leaders and youth groups to use every platform available to them to drum home the effects of teenage pregnancies.

He added, “More classroom building and Library blocks for the communities are part of plans to engage the adolescent during their spare time”.

U/W region grapples with high teenage pregnancy

Fourteen percent (14%) of adolescent women between the ages of 15 and 19 in the Upper West Region get pregnant without the intention to do so. This has been blamed on the low patronage of family planning services in the Upper West Region and the high fertility rate of 4.6 which is above the national average of 4.2.

The region is also recording high maternal deaths, infant and under five mortality rates of 37 and 52 deaths per 1,000 live births respectively.

These were contained in the 2017 Maternal Health Survey.

Regional Population Officer, Abu Salifu

The Upper West Regional Population Officer, Abu Salifu disclosed this at the celebration of World Population Day at Siriyiri in the Wa West District.

Mr. Salifu explained that the factors identified “coupled with the inability of majority of our women to fully participate in important decision taking at both the regional and national levels is a source of concern for sustainable development”.

The World Population Day was first observed in 1989 after the world’s population hit 5 billion in 1987 which was said to be alarming. The global celebration this year focuses on “International Conference on Population and Development at 25; The Unfinished Business”. Ghana meanwhile adapted the local theme “Reproductive Health and Gender Equality for Sustainable Development”.

The Upper West Regional Population Officer Abu Salifu described the themes as apt saying “the themes remind us of the Program of Action at the 1994 ICPD in Cairo where the international community reached a consensus on the reduction of infants, child and maternal mortality”.

He said in lieu with this, there must be the “provision of universal education particularly for girls and the provision of universal access of a full range of reproductive health services including family planning”.

Mr. Salifu called for the mainstreaming of family planning services for Ghanaians particularly those in the Upper West Region.

The Upper West Regional Minister, Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih in a speech read on his behalf expressed worry about the continuous rise in teenage pregnancy in the region. He disclosed that “in a research by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, between 2012 and 2013, the region recorded the highest (15 percent) of teenage pregnancies.” Dr. Bin Salih added that “the region [Upper West Region] however placed second to the Upper East Region with 13 percent in 2016.”

U/W Regional Minister, Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih

The Minister averred that teenage pregnancy is a major challenge because “girls who become pregnant go through extreme pressure from family and community members to marry hence curtailing their ability to continue with their education or other chosen vocational careers”.

Dr. Bin Salih said there is a need for society to further uphold the views, rights and privileges of women. “Men should treat women with respect and give them space to participate in decision making starting from the household level. This should include decisions about childbearing,” he stressed.

The Wa West District Health Directorate used the occasion to educate the residents of Siriyiri on the importance of family planning.

Residents of Siriyiri

Story filed by Mark Smith

Women empowerment, critical to attaining SDGs

Bolgatanga, July 12, GNA – Mr Alosibah Akare Azam, the Upper East Regional Population Officer, has called on stakeholders to review and initiate interventions and policies geared towards addressing gender inequality issues to attain inclusive development.

This, he said, would eliminate all forms of gender discrimination particularly against women and empower them to contribute significantly to achieve sustainable national development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Regional Officer made the call when he briefed the media in Bolgatanga, as part of activities marking the 2019 World Population Day celebration.

The global event celebrated annually on July 11, is set aside by the United Nations (UN) to highlight key population issues and challenges at the global and national levels and examine the need to review existing policies and programmes to address them.

The global theme for this year’s celebration was “International Conference on Population and Development at 25: the unfinished business” while in Ghana it had been sub themed: “Reproductive Health Gender and Equality for sustainable development”.

The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo, Egypt and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, declared that women’s empowerment and reproductive rights are essential for the realization of sexual and reproductive rights.

Mr Azam explained that the country’s socio-economic development depended on the attention paid to gender issues and the programmes formulated to mitigate them.

“Generally, when gender equality improves, the amount of power within women to bargain and acquire resources that is desired, is likely to increase, thus, leading to increase in opportunities for women to make personal and social choices.

“Sustainable development, especially attaining the SDG five, relies on ending discrimination towards women and providing them equal opportunities for education and employment,” he added.

The Regional Officer revealed that the Upper East Region for instance, during the 2010 population and housing census, recorded over one million people and is expected to hit over 1.3 million with the growth rate of 1.2 per cent, adding that, about 52 per cent are women.

This, according to Mr Azam, does not correspond with women representation at the decision making processes, especially at the local governance levels, adding that, “the situation is even worse among the Assembly Members across the region.”

Teenage pregnancy, inadequate information and social cultural beliefs, regarding the use of modern family planning methods, were major factors that accounted for the rapid population growth the region and the country had experienced, Mr Azam added.

He said, “traditional and community leaders such as chiefs and queen-mothers, as well as religious leaders should serve as champions of change for reproductive health in their communities, mosques and churches by promoting reproductive health issues in their messages.

“The traditional leaders should institute by-laws in their communities to facilitate or promote reproductive health and abolish negative or harmful practices that affect reproductive health.”

The Regional Officer said family planning was central to achieving gender equality, women empowerment and reduced poverty, and advocated intensive education, especially in the rural areas, to ensure parents understand the implications of having many children on family’s resources and against the few social amenities in the country.

By Anthony Apubeo, GNA 

World Population Day observed in Koforidua

The Acting Eastern Regional Population Officer, Kwasi Owusu Obeng has declared that development cannot be delinked from population since it is the subject and object of development of every nation.

Speaking at a media engagement to mark this year’s World Population Day in Koforidua, Mr. Obeng said, with the right investments in health, including family planning, education, provision of employment opportunities and good governance, national development can be achieved.

He added that population issues go beyond just the numbers pointing out that Ghana has experienced some reduction in the total fertility rate from six point two percent in 1998 to four point two percent in 2018.

He noted that the decline has opened a window of opportunity for the country to harness the potential in the youth for development.

Mr. Obeng also spoke on the importance of Girl Child Education in the country.

Madam Ellen Darkoa Asare said, early teenage pregnancy in the region reduced from zero point four percent to zero point three percent between 2014 and 2018 in the region, while that of late teenage pregnancy reduced from thirteen point six percent to twelve point nine percent during the same period.

She outlined inadequate scale-up of information for adolescents and challenges of reaching the out-of-school teenagers, among others as some of the issues confronting the sector in tackling the problem.

Madam Asare suggested the establishment of pregnancy schools, increase of adolescent-friendly facilities, frequent health committee meetings in all districts and strengthening the usage of community pregnancy registers as ways to fight the menace.

The theme for the celebration was “Reproductive Health and Gender Equality for Sustainable Development”.

source: gbcsunrisefmonlinenews

Balance Parenthood with education to manage Ghana’s development- Ex Prez Kufuor urges parents

Ex President John Agyekum  Kufour has urged all parents to have enough time with their wards so as to be able to train them with the needed moral ethics and societal values in order to address the menace of teenage pregnancy  which is compounding our population issues  and  taking a toll on our economy.

According to him, lack of attention by some parents for their children at home in recent times is affecting child development and the moral upbringing which has been one of the key factors that leads to teenage pregnancy in the country.

Getting parents involved in their children’s learning, and the home upbringing has been identified to make a real difference and potentially has a much bigger impact on a child’s success and the society at large.

“ These days necessity drives the parents to dump their children at school very early in the morning, go to work and get home very late with just a little or no time at all with the children” he said.

“Education is good, teachers would to their best by providing academic duties to children at school. However every parent has a vital role to play in guiding the child and molding them with the right norms of society.  Until we set population management issues right, we would lose the fight as a nation “he added.

The Ex President said this when the Executive Director, of the National Population Council (NPC), Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah paid a courtesy call on him to brief him on the current states of the Ghanaian Population and reproductive health management and asked him for his support.

Again, he urged her to continuously lobby for support in order to get the needed resources which will enable her to propagate the message of the Council

Dr. Appiahsaid teenage pregnancy is taking a toll on productivity in the country and for that matter a holistic and comprehensive approach is required to tackle it rising threat.

The Director however noted that even though NPC has ten regional offices in the country, funding has been one of the major setbacks which has affected the Council to perform its mandate effectively and efficiently since its establishment.

She therefore appealed to the Ex President to add his voice to the call for support towards the work of population management in the country.

She disclosed that the NPC would collaborate with the Hungarian government, the Chinese and other organizations for support, to see how best Ghana’s population issues can be solved.

She said, as part of the activities making the world population day which was celebrated in Accra a couple of weeks ago, the NPC dramatized population dynamics at the Osu Presby Hall.

This, she said is part of efforts being made to channel concerns to the various stakeholders and Civil Society Organizations to know more about the realities on the ground.

Finally, Dr. Appiah said, the drama would be repeated to a larger audience at the National Theater and across ten other regions in the country when the Council is able to solicit for funds to support the event.


Source:  Solace Esi Amankwa (PRO) NPC