Dr. Kunbuor launching the New “Life choices” family planning promotion campanign on behalf of Vice-President Mahama. The Launch was jointly organized by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ghana Health Service.
A campaign to improve the health of Ghanaian children and women by increasing access to family planning services and information was launched in Accra yesterday.
Dubbed “Life Choices,” it will prevent an estimated 200,000 child deaths and 4,000 maternal deaths over a 10-year period by addressing the high demand for family planning. That means in just one year, 400 Ghanaian families would be spared the heartache and catastrophe of losing a mother or wife to maternal-related death.
A joint collaboration of the Ghana Health Service and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the campaign will support individuals and couples to make responsible choices about when to have children, and to understand how these choices affect their abilities to achieve their goals.
According to the 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, family planning use increased dramatically from five per cent to 19 per cent between 1998 and 2003. However, this declined to 17 per cent in 2008.
It said more than one-third of married women in Ghana have expressed the desire to use contraceptives but do not have access to them, putting them at risk of unwanted pregnancies.
In an address read on his behalf, Vice-President Mahama said it was time the country took back the national and international leadership role in family planning for the well-being of citizens and the development of the nation.
He said Ghana could be at the cutting edge of a re-emergent international movement to re-commit to family planning, adding, the “Life Choices” initiative would be one critical component of the multi-faceted, multi-sectoral response.
Vice-President Mahama said countries like Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan increased their contraceptive prevalence rate before they were able to achieve their economic successes.
“Lower birth rates are a necessary, but not sufficient condition for a developing country to escape poverty. A ‘demographic dividend’ occurs when family size falls rapidly, and there are relatively more people of working age with fewer dependent children,” he added.
The Vice-President stressed the need to ensure the life choices initiative became a centrally important component of the medium term health plan, and features in all poverty reduction strategies in the country.
Mr. Ian Tweedie, Chief of Party of USAID said the initiative, which span a four-year period would have as its focal areas nutrition, malaria, family planning and maternal health. Campaign materials would include mini docu-dramas, TV and radio spots, flip chart and music video.
Dr. Elias Sory, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service said family planning initiatives were critical to the attainment of all the Millennium Development Goals and called on all stakeholders to support the campaign to ensure maximum effect.
Donald Teitelbaum, US Ambassador to Ghana said since family planning helpewomen and girls to reach their fullest potential, the US government is committed to partnering with the government of Ghana to increase the availability and use of family planning services in the country.