Chief Imam laudes NPC’s efforts to educate Ghanaians on population management

The National Chief Imam, Sheik Usmanu Nuhu Shaributu, has lauded the National Population Council (NPC) for daring into population issues, a move he said is very important if Ghana wants to see measurable growth and sustainable development.

He expressed his unflinching support for NPC and mentioned that his office is opened to the secretariat to ensure that his people are well informed on population and related issues so that they can contribute to help achieve the NPC mandate which is;’’a better and sustainable life for all’’.

He made this pronouncement when the Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah paid a courtesy call on him at his residence in Accra to inform him about the need to take population growth seriously to help bring development to their various communities by growing their human resource and not their numbers and as well seek his blessings and support for NPC.

Dr. Appiah in her submissions made the clearer the mandate of NPC as being an advisory body to government on population issues for government to integrate into their work to help meet the agenda 2020 goals set by the Country.

According to Dr. Appiah, there is indeed strength in numbers but it is a more focused strength if there is quality of numbers than only mere numbers without quality.

‘‘ In the 1950’s when we did not have our children being immunized against the six killer diseases, a lot of them were dying from the measles and all but today we have free immunization for all newly born babies hence the rate of deaths recorded has dropped considerably thus the likelihood of all babies surviving is real’’. This she said is an indicator that if you have three children, they would all survive because of a better health system as compared to former hence the need to cut down on births to ensure quality of life for our children.

She also opined that Allah made us to be interdependent hence the need to support our less privileged to bring them to speed with the changing times through education on population management and its role in National development.

‘‘The population structure is divided into three, the below 14 years who are pure consumers who only consume and produce nothing, 15 to 64 who are producing and the working class and 65 and above who have retired, so it is important that those who are not producing don’t over burden those who are producing, otherwise, it will be impossible to develop irrespective of your natural resources ’’ she remarked adding that the human capital is needed to develop the human resource but most at time we confuse the human resource with the human capital.

She further urged the elders to look at the good examples of Iran and other Islamic countries and follow suit to help provide an improved and sustainable quality of life for all.

Growing population of Ghana, a call for celebration or concern?

“If we do not voluntarily bring population growth under control in the next one or two decades, the nature will do it for us in the most brutal way, whether we like it or not”—Henry W. Kendall.

Population is the most valuable resource of any 

nation. However, population can either be an asset or a liability depending on the ability of one’s society or nation.

According to some demographers, population can be an asset if it is well managed. On the other hand, unmanaged population turns be a source of worry to many societies and states.

For instance, Article 37 Clause 4 of the Fourth Republican Constitution of 1992, enjoins government to maintain a population policy consistent with the aspirations, development needs and objectives of Ghana, and to ensure that population issues are given the prominence they deserve in the country’s development plans and programmes.

Statistics

Ghana demonstrated its commitment to the advancement of population programmes by being the first Sub-Saharan African country to sign the World Leaders’ Declaration on population in 1961. Earlier on in the 1962-63 session of the United Nations General Assembly, Ghana joined other countries in sponsoring a resolution on ‘Population Growth and Economic Development’.

Population structure of Ghana

Ghana, the then Gold Coast organised it first census by the British Administration in 1891. At the time of Ghana’s independence in 1957, its population was barely six (6) million. This increased to 6,726,815 in 1960 when the first post-independence census was taken and to 8,559,313 in 1970.

The census organised in 1984, gave the country’s population as 12, 2968,081, which means Ghana’s population almost doubled within the 24-year period between 1960 and 1984. The figure increased to about 16 million in 1993.

The population grew to 18.9 in 2000 and went up to 24.51 at the last census conducted in 2010. Projections for the future indicate that the country’s population is likely to reach 33.6 million by the year 2020.

From the above statistics, it is obvious that Ghana’s population has grown by more than 23 million people since the country gained independence.

Ghana currently ranks among the countries with the world’s highest rates of population growth. It is this high rate of growth, rather than the size or density of the population per se, which constitutes the basis for the deep concern about the country’s demographic structure.

Concerns

Former President Jerry John Rawlings, for instance, has described the increasing population growth rate of the country as a source of threat to the country’s stability.

According to him, the high population growth rate will be a serious source of instability if necessary actions are not taken to deal with the situation, adding that “manageable population would grantee a better standard of living”.

Mr Rawlings believes the increasing population growth “is as a result of certain weakness” that must be addressed, and added that lack of discipline and sense of responsibility are part of the factors contributing to the high population growth rate.

 

SDGs/Effects

High population growth has direct impacts on every aspect of life, particularly on the environment. This is because there will be too many people competing for the very limited natural resources, hence increasing the poverty margins, crimes, diseases, depletion of fishing stocks, pollution and degradation of the natural environment.

According to 2010 report by the National Entrepreneurs and Innovation Plan (NEIP, 2010), the increasing search for agricultural and grazing land, fuel-wood and charcoal, the land area, including forest reserves, is being continually invaded to the extent that the fragile ecosystem is now seriously threatened.

About 15 mammals and eight bird species, including giant forest hog, giant pangolin, leopard, golden cat, bongo and the elephant, Red colobus monkey and hunting dogs are threatened in Ghana. Similarly, White-breasted guinea fowl are now rare in Ghana.

Distribution of young people in Ghana

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, which are to be achieved in 2030, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

However, considering the growing population of Ghana without any immediate plans to control the rate, puts Ghana at a tight corner to achieve these set goals in 2030.

Unwanted pregnancies / family planning

For instance, the theme for the 2018 World Population Day (WPD) is: “Family planning is a human right” but it is being modified as “Family planning is a human right: an imperative to sustainable economic development”.

The WPD, which seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, was established by the then-Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989.

The Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah in an interview said by lowering fertility and slowing population growth, the working-age population grows in relation to the young and elderly populations.

She added that lower fertility combined with multisector investments make it easier for countries to improve the health and skills of the labor force and create jobs.

Dr Appiah told the Graphic Online that about 17 per cent of all pregnancies in Ghana are unwanted, adding that although many families would like to have smaller family sizes, due to lack of family planning methods, such families usually end up having bigger size families.

Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah

She said the country could slow down its population growth rate if family planning “is made easily accessible and available” to people of reproductive age.

She is the view that making family planning accessible to people would significantly reduce the incidence of abortions, explaining that nobody would think of abortion if such pregnancy was planned for.

 

Dr Appiah said the current population structure of the country where a few people have to take care of many young unproductive populations does not support manufacturing.

“Education on family planning will set the stage for economic development,” she said, noting that the country cannot make any meaningful national planning if the family, which is the basic unit of the country is not planned and managed well.

Development/teenage pregnancies

Dr Appiah said “having fewer children makes it easier for both parents to pursue education and career goals, save and contribute to economic development” and that investment in family planning and quality education are “imperative for economic development”.

A Senior Lecturer at the Department of Population and Health of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Dr Kobina Esia-Donkor believes that the country could control its population if the menace of teenage pregnancies are checked.

He said adolescent childbearing is associated with lower educational attainment among the mothers, and it can perpetuate a cycle of poverty from one generation to the next.

She said many Ghanaian teenagers are getting pregnant, particularly along the coastal communities, noting that Volta and Central regions top the chart of teenage pregnancies as well as border towns and communities.

Dr Esia-Donkor said Volta and Central Regions have teenage pregnancy rates of 22 and 21 per cent respectively, noting that teenage pregnancy in the developed world is less than 2 per cent but it is about 14 per cent in the country.

As part of measures to check the practice, the population expert has called for a review of the country’s laws on the age of sexual consent.

Dr. Kobina Esia-Donkor 

According to him, since children of age 16 can consent to sex, they can choose to engage in sexual acts without protections which could lead to teenage pregnancies or contraction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Dr Esia-Donkor again suggested that another way of tackling the menace of teenage pregnancies in the country was to introduce into the country’s educational curriculum, comprehensive sexuality education to equip the young ones with the needed knowledge on sexual health reproductive issues

It is therefore important to realise that considering the overall effects of this population growth on the living standards, resources use and on the environment, we must take drastic and urgent measures to solve this eminent time bomb that we seem to care very little about.

Population structure

A Chief Statistician and a Census Coordinator with the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), David Kombat in an interview with the Ghanaian Times, which was published on Citifmonline on March 12, 2018, said the country’s population growth rate is at an estimated 2.5 annually, explaining that an estimated 38.8 per cent of the population is made up of the youth.

According to some demographers, the youthfulness of the country’s population, could have negative impacts when the youth are not well-equipped with skills to be gainfully employed and to be empowered to contribute to national development.

It is therefore important to realise that considering the overall effects of this population growth on the living standards, resources use and on the environment, we must take drastic and urgent measures to solve this eminent time bomb that we seem to care very little about.

Writer’s email: zadokgyesi@gmail.com

17% of pregnancies in Ghana are unwanted – Population Council

The Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah says about 17 per cent of all pregnancies in Ghana are unwanted.

According to her, although many families would like to have smaller family sizes, due to lack of family planning methods, such families usually end up having bigger size families.

Dr Appiah was speaking at the opening of a two-day oversight workshop organised for the Parliamentary Select Committee on Population held at Koforidua in the Eastern Region.

The workshop was to enable the members of the Population Caucus in Parliament to ascertain the impacts of health and population issues on national development.

The workshop was opened by the Deputy Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Weija Gbawe Constituency, Ms Tina Gifty Naa Ayeley Mensah.

In attendance was the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and MP for the Ekumfi Constituency, Francis Kingsley Ato Codjoe.

Abortion / family planning

Dr Appiah said if family planning “is eas

ily accessible and available” to people of reproductive age, it would significantly reduce the incidence of abortions.

According to her, nobody would think of abortion if such pregnancy was planned for, adding that people usually go for abortions as a result of lack of planning for such a pregnancy.

“Let us make family planning easily accessible,” she said, noting that the current population structure of the country where a few people have to take care of many young unproductive populations does not support manufacturing.

Dr Appiah has therefore suggested that family planning should be made part of immunization process to help curb the menace of growing population of the country.

She said “education on family planning will set the stage for economic development”, adding that population has a direct bearing on the country’s development.

Development

She explained that the country cannot make any meaningful national planning if the family, which is the basic unit of the country is not planned and managed well.

She was of the view that in our age, having large family sizes is not the best option since robotics are virtually taking over the jobs of the human population.

Dr Appiah said “having fewer children makes it easier for both parents to pursue education and career goals, save and contribute to economic development”.

Teenage pregnancies

Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah

She expressed the worry that many teenagers are getting pregnant, noting that adolescent childbearing is associated with lower educational attainment among the mothers, and it can perpetuate a cycle of poverty from one generation to the next.

“Increased use of modern contraceptives by adolescents wanting to avoid pregnancy would prevent unintended pregnancies, save lives and improve health,” she suggested.

Dr Appiah explained that “lower fertility combined with multi-sector investments make it easier for countries to improve the health and skills of the labour force and create jobs”.

She said investment in family planning and quality education are critical to accelerate economic development of any nation, adding that “family planning is an imperative for economic development”.

Event / Select committee

The event was attended by representatives from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), National Population Council, Plan Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), and Ghana Health Service (GHS).

The Chairman of the committee, Dr Rashid Pelpuo, MP for Wa Central, urged the members on the committee to take a keen interest in the workshop in order to realise the purpose for which the workshop was organised.

Essence

He said the caucus remained the largest caucus in parliament, adding that the workshop was intended to enable the members on the committee to gain a close understanding of the issues of population, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancies and how they impact on the country’s development.

He said the workshop would help to establish linkages between population and development, noting that “the consciousness about the effects of population on our quality development of human life is known and has been worked on since 1969”.

Dr Pelpuo said as part of the workshop, the members of the committee would undertake a field visit to the Koforidua Regional hospital to meet management and staff and also to get a first-hand information on health delivery in the region and the country as a whole.

‘Children having sex at 16 are law abiding’ – UCC Lecturer

A Senior Lecturer at the Department of Population and Health of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Dr Kobina Esia-Donkor has called for a review of the country’s laws on the age of sexual consent in order to help address the menace of teenage pregnancies and also control the country’s growing population.

According to the population expert, for Ghana to effectively deal with the menace of teenage pregnancies and child marriages, the age of sexual consent must be reviewed since the country’s laws permit children who are of age 16 to consent to sex.

He jokingly explained that so far as the laws on sexual consent remained age 16, children who engage in sexual acts at such age have not violated any law and are law-abiding citizens.

Dr Esia-Donkor was speaking at the opening of a two-day oversight workshop organised for the Parliamentary Select Committee on Population held in Koforidua in the Eastern Region.

The workshop was to enable the members of the Population Caucus in Parliament to ascertain the impacts of health and population issues on national development.

Dr Esia-Donkor, who was specifically speaking on the topic: “Teenage pregnancy and child marriage by region. Implications for national economic development” said for Ghana to make any realistic national development plans, it must first address its unmanaged population, including tackling the menace of teenage pregnancies.

He is of the view that the country ought to take immediate steps to review the laws of the age of sexual consent as part of measures to curb the menace of growing teenage pregnancies which has significantly contributed to the soaring population of the country.

He explained that although the legal age for marriage in Ghana is 18, children of age 16 can consent to sex, a situation he said needed to be addressed properly.

Dr Esia-Donkor noted that since children of age 16 can consent to sex, they can choose to engage in sexual acts without protections which could lead to teenage pregnancies or contraction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

He said one of the ways to deal with growing menace of teenage pregnancies was to introduce into the country’s educational curriculum, comprehensive sexuality education to equip the young ones with the needed knowledge on sexual health reproductive issues.

He explained that research has shown that knowledge “does not translate into practice” and that educating children on sexual reproductive health issues would not mean such knowledge would encourage them to engage in sexual practices.

Dr Esia-Donkor also suggested that since many young people, particularly teenagers are engaging in sexual acts, it was necessary to educate and introduce them to contraceptives and family planning methods.

He expressed concern that the current approach where some parents and teachers put fear in children on sex education rather encourages children to engage in sexual activities which are dangerous to themselves, family, community and the country as a whole.

“Let us address teenage pregnancy like galamsey,” he said, adding that teenage pregnancies “have more detrimental effects on the national budgets” than even the menace of galamsey.

GHANA TO HOST ADOLESCENT REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SUMMIT

Ghana will host the 2nd National Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH) Summit in August, this year, in Accra.

About 300 participants are attending the two-day conference, which is taking place on the theme: Effective Population Management through Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health Financing Beyond Aid.

 The ARH Summit will, among other things, review the progress of implementation of the ARH policy and programmes, build consensus and advocate for technical and financial support for ARH programming in the country towards reaping demographic dividend.

The Summit aims to show the linkage between effective population management and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR); provide platforms for partners to share knowledge and lessons on the implementation of SRHR across the country to help improve ASRHR policy, programming and advocacy; promote young peoples’ ideas and innovations in population management and SRHR; and to explore sustainable financing for ASRHR beyond donor funding.

According to a release issued by the organizers of the Summit, abstracts are, therefore, being invited from interested individuals and organisations for oral and poster presentations. The presentations will cover executed/on going research or project initiative(s) carried out by the applicant/organization.

Topics to be discussed at the Summit, the release said, include Population Dynamics and Basic Demographic Concepts (Population and Development Interlinkages); Adolescent SRHR Investment and Sustainable Financing; Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE); and Adolescent SRHR Advocacy.

The others are Adolescent SRHR Policies; the Media and ASRHR; ASRHR in the Digital Era; and Adolescent Friendly Service Delivery.

ARH Summit 2018 is being organized by the National Population Council, with support from the Marie Stopes International, Ghana, and state and civil society partners.

The National population Council (NPC) was established in 1992 and subsequently given legal backing under the National Population Council Act, 1994 (Act 485) as the highest advisory body to the Government of Ghana on all population and related issues through advocacy and effective co-ordination of the implementation of all population policies and programmes.

NPC was also established in response to Article 37 of the 1992 Republican Constitution of Ghana which states “The state shall maintain a population policy consistent with the aspirations and development needs, and objectives of Ghana.”

In 1994, the Government of Ghana adopted its second National Population Policy with the objective, among others, of providing the population with the necessary information and education on the value of a small family size, specifically, and sexual, and reproductive health, in general.

The vision requires the commitment of all sections of the country’s population, especially men, who are often the decision-makers on family size and the livelihood of families, the clergy, traditional authorities and state institution.

On the other hand, Marie Stopes Ghana began providing contraception and safe abortion services in 2007 and has since become one of the country’s most trusted providers, helping more than 115,000 women each year to choose when they have children.

Marie Stopes Ghana operates in every single region of the country, delivering services and information to the country’s underserved communities in a number of different ways:

It has nine clinics in urban areas, six rural outreach teams, two urban outreach teams, 136 private healthcare providers, operating under our Blue Star social franchise brand, a social marketing of contraception; and a call centre that provides information and referrals.

The first ARH Summit— inaugural event—which took place from April 19 to April 21, 2016 discussed the current research surrounding reproductive and sexual health, including clinical research and the development of treatment.

 

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney, Esq.)

Family planning is a human right: an imperative to sustainable economic development

 “Every second, every day, every year, we fail to address demand for reproductive health and family planning services. Lives are lost, and girls’ opportunities to thrive and contribute to their country’s development shrink………..”-Jenny Shipley.

I am so excited to be getting married in a few months to come. In preparation towards having a blissful marriage, I ensure not to absent myself from any marriage seminar within my reach. In one of these seminars, I recollect vividly the speaker advising couples and yet-to-be couples to always plan their families, as it was essential for proper growth of the women and children amidst other benefits that comes with it.

Last Friday, I visited my grandmother who happens to be ninety-five years old. After exchanging pleasantries with her, I told her about my impending marriage and my thoughts of going in for family planning. Lo and behold, to my uttermost surprise, she disagreed vehemently adding that family planning was committing murder and asked why I wanted to reduce the number of children God wanted to give me.

That was when I realized that a lot has gone under the bridge and more needs to be done in educating the public on what at all family planning is and its benefits to the individual, society, and nation as a whole. It’s quite unfortunate that most Ghanaians in our modern era of civilization have embellished in their minds the same perceptions as my grandma.

The question I can’t stop myself from asking is: aren’t such Ghanaians aware that family planning is a human right and an imperative to sustainable economic development?

What Is Family Planning?

Family planning is a method of controlling the number of children one would want to have and the intervals between their births. Family planning includes the timing, spacing and limiting of pregnancy. It also includes the age at which one wishes to give birth. Family planning methods may involve the use of contraceptives, sex education and voluntary sterilization.

Often, young people are considered not old enough to use services and facilities that offer family planning, or they simply do not know that such services exist for them. However; the service applies to all women in their reproductive years (age 15-49). Due to the stress and sacrifices women have to go through during pregnancy and the subsequent responsibilities of motherhood, there is the need for women especially career women to plan the birth of their children.

 

This is because; no employer would want to give a woman three maternity leaves in five years which might reduce productivity and development and consequently lead to a lay-off. Proper planning and consideration, therefore, needs to be taken by career women only if they want to keep their jobs. Young girls who also do not want to abstain from sex must also know about family planning so as to avoid unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions.

Family Planning as a Human Right

 

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), “family planning is not a privilege, but a right. Everybody in the world should have access to contraception. By simply helping women space and limit the number of children will add billions of dollars to the world economy improve global health, increase women’s education (which in turn boosts economic output) and save lives”.

 

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups. Family planning is central to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and it is a key factor in reducing poverty

The Government and Family Planning

There are no legal and constitutional provisions of family planning in Ghana. However, various national policies and strategy plans have addressed the topic of family planning. In Ghana, government support of family planning programmes began in 1969. Some of the major programme initiatives are the Contraceptive Social Marketing project (1987-1990), the Ghana Family Planning and Health Programme (FPHP) (1990-1996), and the Ghana Population and AIDS Project (GHANAPA) (1996-2000).

Family planning is also an important opportunity for identifying and managing other reproductive health problems, including STI/HIV/AIDS. As such, there has been deliberate efforts to train providers of family planning services in the management of STIs (counseling, diagnosis, and treatment/provision of drugs) using syndromic management over the years.

In 1994, the Ghana National Population Council introduced “The Ghana National Population Policy of 1994” which includes the following objectives:

  • To reduce the total fertility rate to 4.0 by 2010 and to 3.0 by 2020
  • To increase the modern contraceptive prevalence rate to 28percentby 2010 and to 50 percent by 2020
  • To achieve a minimum birth spacing of at least two years for all births by 2020. Revisions were made to the National Population Policy in 1994 which primarily focused on better integrating rural families who migrate to urbancenters, ensuring that family planning methods are accessible, and educating the community on population issues. The National Population Policy specifically outlined targets on fertility and contraceptive use.

Also in 1969, Ghana was the second African country to promulgate a policy supporting family planning, namely the policy paper “Population Planning for National Progress and Prosperity”. Further in 1969, the Ghanaian government conducted a large education campaign on family planning. The country’s first population policy of 1969 was followed by the establishment of the Ghana National Family Planning Programme (GNFPP) in 1970. The program was launched to implement the population policy through the use of existing governmental agencies.

In 2005, another comprehensive strategy, “A Road Map for Repositioning Family Planning in Ghana (2006-2010)” was developed. This national policy sought to improve family planning services into the various service components of reproductive health in Ghana within a five-year period by calling for an increase in: political commitment, public awareness and acceptance of family planning as important to national health and socio-economic development, and funding for family planning commodities and services.

In 2010, “Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda” was established between 2010 and 2013, which recognized family planning as a top priority for inclusion in national development plans and activities at all levels. This was followed by “Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II” from 2014 to 2017 which focused on describing health service delivery intent and focusing on HIV, STI and family planning in Ghana.

The current policy is “Ghana Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan 2016-2020” (GFCIP). GFPCIP’s main objectives are to increase the use of contraceptives among married women to 30% and unmarried women to 40% by 2020. Ghana plans to implement this change through the financial resources of development partners amounting to $235 million (USD) between 2016 and 2020, to invest in community education, maternal and infant health care, infrastructure, and contraceptives and family planning counsel.

Family Planning and Economic Development

Economic development is the growth of the standard of living of a nation’s people from a low-income (poor) country to a high-income (rich) economy. When the local quality of life is improved, there is more economic development. Ghana has a high rate of population growth but unfortunately with few resources to cater, educate and feed the many people being born into the country.

The population of Ghana was 6.7 million in 1960; 8.6 million in 1970, in 1984 the population increased to 12.3 million people; the population grew to 18.9 in 2000 and went up to 24.51 in 2010. The total population of Ghana has multiplied over 4times to approximately 29 million as of 2017. However, in that same 1960, Spain had a population of about 30.5 and in 2017, their population was estimated to be about 46.4 million.

Comparing Spain to Ghana, it remains an undeniable fact that we have a high population growth depending on the very few resources the nation has which is obviously one of the many reasons why our country continues to sink in poverty. An estimated 38.8 per cent of the population is made up of the youth according to the Ghana Statistical Services.

We live in a country where access to quality healthcare and education is nothing good to write home about, the youth are not equipped with skills, our streets filled with street children and last but not least, the discussion of sex related issues forbidden in many homes even in this modern era, how do we progress then as a country?

Our youth especially the females lack knowledge on family planning and have been entangled by religion and traditional beliefs while we continue to rot in poverty and ignorance. It is disheartening to know that family planning programmes in resource-poor settings are usually fragile, show signs of poor performance and are both dependent on international funding and constrained by existing policies or lack thereof. However, it is exactly in those settings where family planning programmes are most needed if our country’s aim is to reduce inequalities in health, reduce maternal and child mortality rates, alleviate poverty and foster economic development.

Conclusion

The National Population Council (NPC) was established in 1992 and subsequently given legal backing under the National Population Council Act, 1994, Act 485, as the highest advisory body to the Government of Ghana on all population and related issues through advocacy and effective coordination of the implementation of all population policies and programmes. The establishment of the National Population Council was also in response to Article 37(4) of the 1992 Constitution, which states that: “The State shall maintain a population policy consistent with the aspirations and development needs and objectives of Ghana”.

In order to provide an improved quality of life for Ghanaians, the National Population Council was established as a statutory body mandated to coordinate, monitor and evaluate all population programmes in the country as well as conduct or commission research into existing and emerging population n issues of which family planning issues are dominant.

Despite masses of advocacies by the Council to fulfill its vision and mandate, it has been faced with numerous constraints. Notable amongst such constraints include inadequate financial support from all stakeholders across the country, logistical constrains, human resource among other various challenges.

The population of any Nation is its most valuable resource thus the need for all stakeholders, international agencies, the media, our religious organizations, various institutions, health organizations, political groups, parents and all to join hands with the government to develop the country through population management. Ghana is not an island, we are evolving with the world hence the need to be at pace with the world’s economic development through improved family planning and population management. This is our priceless home, let’s make it worth living.

Writers’ details: 0244805025 del77sly@yahoo.co.uk/ pkesewaa@gmail.com

Raise awareness on increasing population growth — Rawlings

Former President Rawlings with Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah (RIGHT) and the head of communication at the National Population Council, Mabel Selassie Awuku.
 

Former President Jerry John Rawlings has called on religious leaders and the media to help raise awareness of the country’s increasing rates in population growth.

According to him, the situation, if not checked, could pose a threat to the country’s socio-economic development. Considering their roles as key actors of change, Mr Rawlings said both religious leaders and the media had significant roles to play in shaping societal beliefs on population control. The former President made the call when the Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, paid a courtesy call on him at his office in Accra. The director briefed Mr Rawlings about the effects of the growing population and reproductive health issues in the country.

Observations
Mr Rawlings noted that the increasing population growth “is as a result of a certain weakness” that must be addressed. He mentioned the lack of discipline and sense of responsibility as some of the factors contributing to the high population growth in the country. According to the former President, the country needed to embark on a serious campaign on family planning. “We could have had a better standard of living if the situation was controlled,” he stated.

Underdevelopment
For her part, Dr Appiah said the increasing population growth could lead to underdevelopment since countries with high population growth rates were often poor.

She added that for the country to make any headway in controlling its population, there was the need to embrace family planning. “We need to talk about manageable population size,” Dr Appiah stated, adding that: “We have to appreciate population management in economic development. “She indicated that one of the key objectives of the population policy was to “educate the youth on population matters which directly affect them, such as sexual relationship, fertility regulation, adolescent health, marriage and child bearing in order to guide them towards responsible parenthood and small family sizes”.

Population policy
Ghana adopted a population policy in 1969 as part of its commitment to implement appropriate strategies and programmes to manage population resources in a manner consistent with the government’s ultimate objective of accelerating the pace of economic modernisation and improving the quality of life of Ghanaians. The 1969 Population Policy was aimed at reducing the country’s high-expected population growth rate, which between 1960 and 1970 was 2.4 per annum with a target of 1.7 by 2000. The policy was, however, revised in 1994 to promote, clarify and sharpen the awareness and understanding among opinion leaders and the public at large of population issues and the implications of rapid population growth. Similarly, it is to ensure that population issues are systematically integrated into all aspects of development planning and activities at various levels of the administrative structure.

Akwamumanhene calls for small family sizes to control growing population

Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III.

The Paramount Chief of the Akwamu Traditional Area, Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III, has called for smaller family sizes as a way to control the country’s growing population.

He said encouraging people to have small family sizes is the way to go, considering the country’s limited resources and the global economy at large.

Odeneho Kwafo Akoto made the remarks at a day’s sensitization workshop organised by the National Population Council (NPC) on population, health and livelihood for the chiefs and people of Akwamu Traditional Area in the Eastern Region.

It was on the theme: “Teenage pregnancy and child marriage, effects on sustainable national development”.

Purpose of sensitization
The main goal of the advocacy workshop is to build alliances among traditional authorities for intervention programmes on family welfare, including family planning, to facilitate the achievement of sustainable development in the country.
The sensitization provided a platform for traditional leaders, opinion leaders and other citizens, including the youth of the Akwamu Traditional Area to deliberate on the development of the area through a measured population structure.
Small family sizes
Odeneho Kwafo Akoto said having small family sizes would help ensure a better society where people can have access to quality lifestyles, including, education, health, and other social services.

He explained that although there is no law restricting people to the number of children they can give birth to, people must only give birth to children they can cater for.

He added that it would be of no essence for people to give birth to children they cannot cater for, hence making such children to become frustrated in life.

Odeneho Kwafo Akoto said children whose parents are unable to cater for their needs always end up on the streets, engaging in all forms of social vices, including armed robbery and prostitution.

Population and development
The Executive Director of the NPC, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, said healthy families are essential for any country as they have a direct impact on human, moral and social capital as well as on resource use.

She said with limited resources, high fertility makes it increasingly difficult for families to adequately feed, clothe, house, educate and provide medical care for children, adding that it also undermines savings.

She explained that high fertility and high population growth rate lead to a decrease per capita income in two ways—“firstly, more consumers divided any given amount of goods and secondly, each worker produces less because there is less capital per worker”.

Dr Appiah, however, said “with manageable family size and population growth, savings increases at the individual levels, translating into national funds for development”.

Role of chiefs
Touching on the workshop, she said traditional leaders and traditional structures are the pivot around which many African communities revolve, hence involving them in population related matters would help achieve the desired results.

“There is a strong link between traditional leadership, ethics and culture, with traditional leaders considered as custodians of culture from one generation to the next”, she said, adding that “they are therefore a key partner in population programmes as they are well placed to work with their communities to improve the quality of life of the people.

A Senior Lecturer from the Department of Population and Health at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Dr Kobina Esia-Donkor, said the government can change the country’s soaring population structure by investing in education and family planning.

He said having large family sizes would only result in financial constraints on both the families and the state at large, hence the need for people to reconsider the number of children they have in relation to their economic abilities.

GJA pledges support to help manage Ghana’s population

The Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr Leticia Appiah (middle) with the President of GJA, Roland Affail Monney (right) and the Administrator of the Ghana International Press Centre, Mr Fiifi Nettey

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has pledged support to help raise awareness on Ghana’s population issues.

Ghana’s population is hovering around 29million and according to the Population Council, there was the need to reduce the high-expected population growth rate. Speaking during a visit to the National Population Council in Accra, Mr Affail Monney said the media will help raise awareness on Ghana’s population growth rate and its intended effects. This, he said was to help enhance the speedy development of the country and engender the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ mantra of the government, aimed at making Ghana self-sufficient to accelerate development.

Mr Monney was of the view that the media had a critical role in helping to educate people to have small family sizes which they can cater for and set the agenda on population issues to help better position Ghanaians in making right choices with the use of the Ghana population policy document.

The Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr Leticia Appiah, for her part, appealed to GJA to create an award category for Journalists who would champion the course of population and its attendant issues in the country. She bemoaned the high teenage pregnancy rate, adding that because many teenagers cannot cater for the welfare of the children they give birth to, such children end up becoming street children. She said if efforts are not intensified to address the high teenage pregnancies, “we will be suffering since 45 per cent of people on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) are under 18 years and also with 14 per cent teenage pregnancy rate,” she explained. “The NHIS is overburdened because of the high rate of deliveries by the unproductive group (teenagers) who are delivering for free and also on the NHIS”, Dr Appiah explained