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