High Population Growth Rate, A Challenge, Sustainer Of Poverty – Dr. Leticia Appiah

In this interview, with ADEZE OJUKWU, the Executive Director of National Population Council and a member of the National COVID-19 Taskforce in Ghana, Dr. Leticia Appiah, called for urgency, in addressing the negative trend, in order to avert its far-reaching socio-economic consequences on the continent and its future.

TNE: Can you briefly speak about your academic and professional background?

I completed Medical School from Donetsk Medical Institute in Ukraine in 1993.
I obtained a Master‘s and PhD in Public Health from University of Ghana in 2003 and 2018 respectively. In 2011, I became a fellow of Hubert H. Humphrey Programme under the Fulbright Scholarship. During this period I obtained further training and experience, in HIV policy and prevention at Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University in Atlanta. I am the Executive Director of National Population Council, the highest statutory body set up by the constitution, which advises Government on population.

I am a member of Ghana AIDS Commission Board, National Steering Committee of the 2020 Ghana Population and Housing Census, Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) and Technical Committee National COVID-19 Taskforce in Ghana.

TNE: What does an effective population management mean for a nation?

Effective population management starts with reduction of high-risk pregnancies, which ultimately improves the lives and livelihoods of citizens. This makes it easier and cheaper to implement other policies such as education, housing, sanitation, employment and security.

TNE: What is the role of government in population management?

Governments have the prime responsibility for the provision of policies and programmes aimed at harnessing the human capital. Consequently, this will improve the quality of life of its citizens and make the nation a prosperous one.
Population is every nation’s most valuable resource, but for it to be fit for the purpose, it needs to be transformed into capital through systematic and timely investments in adequate nutrition, health and education.

Just like crude oil, a natural resource needs to be refined for value addition before it can be consumed.

At the very core of our conversation on sustainable development therefore is how many people we have and can adequately plan for at any point in time without destroying the ecosystem that sustains lives.

TNE: How does high population growth affect unemployment, poverty and public health?

Employment is a condition for prosperity, community stability and national development.
Rapid population growth makes it more challenging for governments and private sector to create jobs. The correlation between fertility levels and future employment opportunities for young people should be clear. With high fertility rates, high population growth rate could outstrip the nation’s ability and capacity to provide necessities for good health cognizant of the finite nature of resources, such as land and water. Again, governments may have difficulties in providing adequate and quality education as well as jobs for the huge number of people, to meet the requirements of 21st century. This could chronically lead to low savings, unemployment, underemployment and poverty, which threaten sustainable development.

TNE: What is the impact of the region’s high population growth rate on the response to COVID-19?

Generally, high population growth in Africa affected its response to coronavirus in several ways, especially with the lockdowns in several countries.
Undoubtedly, population structure is a major factor for underdevelopment and economic stagnation. Africa has a youthful population and ensuring their reproductive health needs are met is imperative to contain and slow the high population growth rate during the pandemic and beyond. However, during the lockdown, access to family planning and reproductive health services was restricted, especially for the poor.

This obviously could have led to unplanned and accidental pregnancies, thus adding to family and national responsibilities. Also, with children out of school, many girls from poor families may end as child brides, contributing to high population growth, widening inequality and ravaging poverty gaps.

TNE: What is the significance of COVID-19 to Africa?

The pandemic underscores the need to place equal premium on population dynamics, public health and economics, as important variables in the simultaneous equation of sustainable development for maximum impact.

COVID-19 offers an opportunity to reflect on the linkages between population and socio-economic policies that healthily balance the supply of labor and the job opportunities to meet our development targets. This will ultimately, create the Africa we want.

The pandemic offers Africans the opportunity to rethink resilience, amidst physical and social distancing. With closed borders and protective equipment in short supply, self-reliance and economic growth should be central to our agenda.

 

TNE: Can you highlight strategies to improve acceptance of family planning in Africa?

In resource constraint settings, the right health policy, such as family planning contributes to improving macro-economic policies by keeping people healthy and productive, in all spheres of life, from education to skill acquisition and employment. To improve acceptance of family planning two main approaches are critical. Firstly, advocacy and awareness creation, are needed to build coalitions and support among key actors and decision makers at all levels to overcome barriers to supporting a family planning campaign, as a developmental programme. Secondly, implementation of a national communications campaign among all sectors at the national, district, and community levels on the critical role of family planning in poverty reduction.

TNE: How can governments and regional bodies work with stakeholders, including traditional and religious leaders to manage population?

All stakeholders including religious organizations should work together to improve quality life of citizens. Evidence shows that investment in family planning improves quality of life. In reference to religious leaders, the fact that religion and spirituality entreat us to harness our God-given talents for his kingdom’s purpose and our common good forms the basis for planning. To achieve this, reducing high population growth rate by reducing child marriage, teen pregnancies and other high-risk pregnancies makes it easier for families and governments to adequately invest in skill development and other productive ventures. All these will empower citizens to become financially independent.

Majority of Africans have a religious affiliation, so engaging religious leaders, as stewards of population management, is critical, in addressing Africa’s population dynamics. The strategy is to develop problem points, based on the impact of unmanaged populations, in order to identify solutions at the community level. The potential outcomes will include sensitizing majority of the country to population issues, through trusted sources, while countering the perception that religious authorities will not support population efforts.

TNE: Africa has enough expertise on development. Why are African governments not implementing solutions already working in China or India?

The reasons are many. However solutions, which have worked for other countries, may not necessarily work exactly the same way. Each country is unique and dynamic.

It cannot be one size fitting all. The socio-economic and cultural nuances of Africa must be considered in implementation of programmes, which may have worked in other regions. Africans must come to the realization that high population growth rate is a challenge and a sustainer of poverty. We need to confront head-on and find appropriate ways to communicate the need to reduce the growth rate to enable quality human capital accumulation for sustainable development, especially in the 21st century. Generally, human capital enables nations and families to overcome poverty.

TNE: How will the region integrate strategic planning in human capital development policies?

Accumulation of human capital has a right order and optimal timing just like prevention of COVID- 19 has its own protocols, which do not take into consideration our wishes, dreams, habits and cultures. Human capital accumulation is not ad hoc programme. It involves a strategic plan with appropriate investments along with the critical role of population dynamics in development frameworks.

Environmental, social and economic agenda can no longer be pursued, separately but must be merged into a single sustainable, inclusive and equitable growth policy which will invariably lead to improved productivity and reduction of inequality in society.
TNE: Can you mention a few practical strategies on diversifying the African economy.

Labour and education policies should keep up with the pace of innovation with talent adaptability. They are critical in helping nations cope with disruptions, such as COVID-19.

A holistic approach will better balance short term considerations against factors, because their impact is felt beyond short term cycles. COVID-19 has indeed ignited our creative and innovative skills to start production of needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators, due to the universal demand for them. We cannot continue to depend on other nations for things we can easily produce. This is pointing us to the need to focus more on technical education and industrialization of our countries and less reliance on imported finished products.

By ADEZE OJUKWU – June 20, 2020

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

53% of all pregnancies in Ghana are unwanted

A recent Guttmacher report published in April 2020 shows that more than half (53%) of all pregnancies in Ghana are unintended and about 71% of all abortions are illegal.
According to the report, northern zone recorded 23%, coastal zone recorded 51% while the middle zone recorded 66%. An estimated 23% of all pregnancies in Ghana in 2017 ended in abortion.
Again, the Ghana Statistical Service 2017 Maternal Health Survey shows that 32% of all 19 years olds are already mothers and evidence from the Ministry of Education’s Education Management Information System further confirms this unfortunate fate; 6,607 pregnancies from upper primary – SHS in the 2017/2018 academic year alone and this increased to about 7,293 pregnancies in the 2018/2019 academic year. Recent reports from the central region gender office stated about 4,100 teenage pregnancies were recorded from January to May alone; and while this is celebrated as a reduction of 500 pregnancies from last year, a report of over 4,000 adolescent pregnancies in one region alone should make any development-oriented person shiver.
Disclosing these figures at the pre-launch of the this year’s World Population Day in Accra, Patricia Antwi-Boasiako, Deputy Director – Operations and Advocacy at Marie Stopes Ghana, said, during the covid-19 lockdown in April 2020 her institution projected that 26,000 women and girls in Ghana could lose access to contraception due to significant reductions in service provision for three months (April – June) at Marie Stopes Ghana clinics, outreach areas, and private bluestar clinics due to covid-19. “This reduction in access to services, we foresee, could be as high as 58,000 women and girls if Covid-19 persist till December 2020” said Antwi-Boasiako.
“That is why for us as Marie Stopes Ghana, this year’s World Population Day theme, “Putting the brakes on COVID-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now, couldn’t be more appropriate”, she noted. She was of the view that safeguarding the health of women and girls, really translates to safeguarding the future and the economy; “when families, women and girls are adequately empowered and supported to plan their lives and decide when and how to have children, they are able to achieve their academic and career aspirations and thus contribute meaningfully to the economy”.
“Our ability to achieve the SDGs in 10years, 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.
Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah- the Executive Director of National Population Council (NPC), on her part observed that, globally, the pandemic is threatening to derail many efforts including efforts to achieve zero maternal deaths, zero unmet needs for family planning and zero sexual and gender based violence and harmful practices targets which are necessary in meeting SDG goals and in the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.
She stressed that the NPC and its partners are committed to safe guarding the hard-fought gains and ensuring that sexual reproductive health rights and service stays on the local agenda to enlist societal and political wills in maintaining the momentum towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.
Dr. Appiah argued that investing in reproductive health would contribute to healthier individuals, healthier families, which would contribute to stronger and wealthier nations. She stressed that investments in reproductive health safeguards the lives of women and children, improves family and community wellbeing and boost economic gains; and yet as a country, we are far from achieving the benefits of reproductive health.
She added that 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 as sustainable future for all,” she noted.
The World Population Day is an annual event, observed on July 11 every year, which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. The concept was established by Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. WPD is celebrated in Ghana by National Population Council with support from the United Nations Population Fund and other development partners.
World Population Day aims to increase people’s awareness on various population issues such as the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights.

By Kofi Ahovi

Census 2020: Everyone Counts, Get Counted

Ghana’s population continue to increase by more than 700,000 people each year, with most of the growth occurring in urban areas of Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi-Takoradi. According to the National Population Council (NPC, RAPID 2015) Ghana’s population is estimated to be 45.8 and 50.2 million by 2040 and 2050 respectively should the current growth rate remain unchanged. Continued population growth has strong implications for quality of life, socio-economic growth and sustainability. This clearly points to the fact that investment and resources including education, housing, road network, energy, health, water and sanitation facilities will have to be provided to match up with the increasing numbers. It is important to understand and appreciate that planning precedes development and one sure way of actualizing this is through census.

Population and Housing Census defined
Population and housing census is one of the most expensive and complex exercises to be undertaken by any nation. It requires some amount of detailed cartographic work, recruiting and training huge number of enumerators, putting in place strong publicity machinery, compiling huge amounts of data on paper and or in electronic format, analyzing and disseminating same to end users. This year’s population and housing census (PHC) will be the sixth post-independence to be conducted in Ghana.

Population and housing censuses are done decennial (every ten years) by countries consistent with United Nations recommendations. By definition, population and housing census is the enumeration of the total population of a country, which provides data on the number of people, spatial distribution, age and sex structure, living conditions and other key socioeconomic characteristics. Data on disability, migration and information communication technology will also be collected, analyzed and disseminated. Such data are critical to development planning, tracks population dynamics, spatial and social inequalities in development and allocation of infrastructure at multi-level as well as for electoral and boundary planning. From its simplistic approach population and housing census provides primary data source on size and spatial distribution of the population, housing conditions and related characteristics.

Uniqueness of the 2020 census
The uniqueness of the 2020 population and housing census lies in its capacity and capability to switch from paper-centric to techno-centric approach. An innovative approach to generating population and housing data remains the best option at least for now. A computer assisted personal information (CAPI) device will be used. A technique that integrates geographical information satellite images, remote sensing and survey data at point of service (POS) and point of delivery (POD). The use of CAPI has proven not only to be user friendly even to the technophobic but also robust, stable and practical in operational context. This new approach will enable us generate, analyze, disseminate and publish high quality, relevant and disaggregated geo-referenced census data timely for use.

A key challenge likely to compromise the outcome and coverage of any census is inaccessibility. However, in the case of Ghana this has been overcome through the use of GPS and a further development of cartographic maps to guide enumerators. It is important to know that the use of CAPI per say will not replace the comprehensive data set alternatively generated through traditional means

The upcoming population and housing census calls for greater attention and involvement across sectors as a successful exercise will make available quality geo-referencing data and knowledge on demand for decision-making and to guide development. This explains why the 2020 population and housing census is of much importance to all, for everyone counts get counted.

My Details:
NAME: Frank Ofosu-Asante
ORGANISATION: National Population Council – W/R
POSITION: Regional Director
E-MAIL: ofosuasante32@yahoo.com

Show interest in the work of Population Council—Muslim leaders to govt.

The Executive Director of the Muslim Family Council Services (MFCS), Chief Alhaji Imoro Baaba, has urged government to show more interest in the work of the National Population Council (NPC) as it is a vital arm of government that acts as a springboard for government developmental agenda.

According to him, without the full functioning of the NPC, it will be difficult for the various institutions and commissions set up by the government to achieve any impactful results. 

Chief Alhaji Imoro Baaba made the remarks when he paid a courtesy call on the Executive Director of the NPC, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah last Wednesday, February 6, 2019 in Accra.

He was accompanied by accompanied by Alhaji Issifu Fuseini and Hajia Adiza Baaba Issa, Deputy Director of the Muslim Family Council Services. 

Chief Alhaji Imoro Baaba said a lot of people do not understand the work of the council hence the very little prominence it receives, urging government to provide increased support to the NPC if it desires to see meaningful development. 

He also called on the United Nations Population Fund, formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) and other international donors to continue to beef-up support for the population council to do their advocacy work to affect lives positively.

“The establishment of the National population Council dates as far back to the Busia regime which saw population, family planning as the way to go if visible developments is something to go by,” he opined. 

Chief Alhaji Imoro Baaba also blamed teenage pregnancy and all the increasing social ills in society to the country’s inability to address population, family planning and related issues.

He has, therefore, requested the NPC to adopt strategic lobbying skills to get the desired prominence it requires to help achieve its mandate in making government efforts in developing Ghana visible. 

He was of the view that there is the need for partnership to better position family planning strategically for national development, educate its people and provide requisite information for their follower and provide better understanding regarding the integral nature of NPC’s work in national Development. 

The Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah who was happy to receive the group commended their efforts and supports. 

“Family planning is the way to go,” she said, adding that it is like a missionary work, hence all must join hands in achieving a mandate of providing an improved and sustained quality of life for all Ghanaians. 

“We are ready to join you and won’t also mind if you join us to do the needful for the country we all love and want to see develop,” she noted.

Council of State pledges support for National Population Council

The members of the Council of State have pledged their support for the National Population Council (NPC) to carry out its mandate of advising government on population and its related issues.

According to the council, issues bothering on population cannot be taken out of the equation of development.

The Chairman of the Council, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, said there is an urgent need to prioritise population management in the development planning of the country as it has a direct bearing on the country’s resource use and distribution.

Nana Otuo Siriboe made the remarks when the Executive Director of the NPC, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah gave a presentation on Ghana’s population structure at the State House in Accra.

“I’m scared looking at the population structure of Ghana…that in fact, we are sitting on a time bomb,” the Council of State Chairman said, adding that “We haven’t taken care of these things and our population is ballooning.”

He said no matter the amount of effort government put in place to develop the country, once the population is not factored in, such efforts would not yield any result.

“In our time, the secondary schools with high population was not up to 700 people but today, Opoku Ware Senior High School has more than 2000 students,” he said.

Speaking on the topic: “Population dynamics in socio-economic development”, Dr Appiah, said “It is very difficult to develop if you ignore population” pointing out that although “reproduction is an individual choice, it has communal implications.”

She described Ghana’s population as a youthful one, noting that such a population structure has implications on the country’s expenditure.

 

According to Dr Appiah, youthful population is characterized by high poverty rate, high dependency ratio, high expenditure on government to contain diseases and not to improve healthcare, fewer people paying taxes, and poor quality of education and lack of employment opportunities.

She explained that population and development are inter-related, explaining that in order to improve the quality of development planning, it is important to promote awareness among planners and policy makers on the need to adapt population policies consistent with development objectives.

According to her, it is important that stakeholders realise that high risk births, unwanted childbearing and rapid population growth as a demographic path is a major obstacle to our development.

Dr Appiah has therefore called for family planning services as part of measures to manage the country’s population, saying “family planning programmes have proven to bring about health and socio-economic benefits by encouraging smaller, healthier, more educated and skilled families.”

“We therefore need to invest in family planning to reduce high risk pregnancies which translate into reduction in medical, economic and social expenses,” she noted.

She explained that reducing high risk pregnancies sets the stage for adequate investment in nutrition, health, education and skill needed for human capital accumulation.

Dr Appiah further explained that investing in family planning “reduces the high youth dependency ratio and increases investment per child and ultimately improves the economic prospects of households and the nation.”

She was of the opinion that one way of making family planning easily accessible to people of reproductive age was to make contraceptives “easily accessible to people.”

According to her, making contraceptive accessible and easily available can be achieved through well-funded and active countryside media campaign supported by political leadership that provides information about the benefits of contraception, smaller families and the advantages of reducing risky pregnancies to the family, community and nation.

GIJ and Population Council to develop population reporting course

The Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) and the National Population Council (NPC) are collaborating to develop a course module on population reporting for students in the school.

The programme, which will be piloted in the 2019/2020 academic year, according to the Rector of the school, Professor Kwamena Kwansah-Aidoo, is aimed at equipping students to better understand population dynamics and how it affects development.

Courtesy call

He gave the hint when he paid a courtesy call on the Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah at her office in Accra on Thursday, January 31, 2019.

Prof. Kwansah-Aidoo was accompanied by the Head of Research and Acting Head of the Department of Communication at the school, Dr Lawrencia Agyepong.

He said the visit was to enable him to familiarise himself with sister state institutions and to find out how best they (institutions) can collaborate to contribute to the development of the country.

He said NPC was doing something great which the GIJ finds worthy to collaborate with, saying “We are interested in what you do and we want you to be interested in what we do.”

According to Prof. Kwansah-Aidoo, the familiarization tour also forms part of activities to create public awareness about the school’s upcoming 60th anniversary.

The school was established in 1959 by the Kwame Nkrumah government to provide training in journalism toward the development of a patriotic cadre of journalists to play an active role in the emancipation of the African continent.

Linkage

For her part, Dr Agyepong, said “We want to link what we do to development of the country”, pointing out that GIJ as an institution does not only train communicators, but contributes to national development.

She commended NPC for instituting media award scheme to whip-up the interest of journalists in population reporting.

According to her, the award scheme will help promote understanding of population issues among the populace.

Touching on the course, Dr Agyepong said the course will be piloted in 2019/2020 academic year either at level 300 or 400, saying “we cannot leave population to chance.”

The Executive Director of the NPC, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, expressed optimism that the collaboration between the two institutions would greatly contribute to the development of the country.

Population reporting

“It is important that we work together for the content our media people put out so that policy makers and stakeholders would well appreciate the impacts of population on national development,” she stated.

She expressed her happiness about the decision of the school to introduce a course on population reporting, noting that “I am excited that you have come on board. If we do not sow in season, we cannot reap the expected outcome.”

According to Dr Appiah, issues of population are long term things and that long term things don’t attract people’s attention, hence many people particularly in Ghana do not see the effects of the country’s growing population.

“Population is everything,” she said, adding that the decision by GIJ to introduce a course will help journalists and media practitioner to have better understanding of population issues and how to report on such issues with clarity.

Dr Appiah said any developed country takes population issues seriously, stressing that “people are not seeing the importance of population.”
Synchronization

She also expressed worry about lack of synchronization among state institutions, pointing out that such a practice leaves a lot to be desired.

According to her, it would be better if state institutions and agencies work together in the discharge of their duties, saying “We need to work together. We cannot sit in our silos.”

Media awards on population reporting in Ghana launched

A maiden media contest on population and development journalism has been launched in Accra with a call on government to prioritize funding for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) education in the country.

This, according to the Executive Director of the National Population Council (NPC), Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, would help to prevent unintended pregnancies and improve maternal and child health in the country.

“We can either invest in reproductive health information and services and reap the dividends or ignore it and continue to bear the expenditure of unintended pregnancies, both in the short and long terms,” she said.

Impacts

According to her, the full value of investing in sexual and reproductive health services had really been underestimated in the country, saying “We need to intentionally prioritise funding for SRHR because we cannot be neutral; we are either part of the solution or part of the problem.”

Speaking at the launch of the maiden population and development media awards, Dr Appiah said 90 per cent of all adolescent pregnancies in 2017 ended up in unsafe abortions.

According to her, such pregnancies and abortions could have been prevented if the victims had access to information on SRHR.

She explained, for instance, that “Adolescent childbearing has remained at almost 14 per cent since 2003 with 50 per cent of married adolescents, not using any form of modern contraception.”

“Factors accounting for these outcomes are multiple, and include inadequate access to information on SRHR, social stigmatization against persons who access SRHR services such as family planning particularly among adolescents,” Dr Appiah stated.

Awards

Touching on the awards scheme, Dr Appiah said it was intended to increase media reportage on population, family planning and its related issues, saying “by this, the NPC and its partners will be engaging the media on a regular basis to help in the dissemination of information on population and development from an informed position.”

From left: Minister for Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah; Executive Director of the National Population Council (NPC), Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, and Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), Mrs. Abena Acheampong.

According to her, the ultimate aim of the awards was to celebrate and recognize the best of population and development reporting across the country “which convey relevant information on population and development to the people of Ghana.”

Dr Appiah said the submissions would be opened from December 1, this year, to June 30, 2019, and that the awards would be held in July, 2019 to climax the World Population Day.

She, therefore, encouraged journalists and media practitioners to report more on population and SRHR issues to enable them to win any of the categories in the contest.

Motivation

The Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), Mrs. Abena Acheampong, said the awards would serve as a motivation to journalists to report on population and SRHR issues in the country.

According to her, issues on population and SRHR had been underreported in the country probably due to the lack of information and understanding on it by journalists and media practitioners.

She said issues on population and SRHR affected every aspect of the country’s development, hence the need to educate the public on them.

Mrs. Acheampong noted that PPAG would continue to partner NPC and other relevant stakeholders to disseminate information and educate the Ghanaian public on issues on population and SRHR.

Government’s support

 

The Minister for Information, Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who officially launched the awards scheme, said population issues were of great importance to the government, as government programmes and policies were all tied to the population of the country.

He, therefore, urged the media to continue to serve as agents of development by highlighting issues that affected the very existence of the citizenry.

“The best journalist is the one who looks out for stories that the society must hear,” he said, pledging the support of the government towards the organisation of the awards.

Mr. Oppong Nkrumah also called on corporate bodies, both public and private to support the organization of the award since population affected every business, saying “consider it (this media contest) as your Corporate Social Responsibility.”