The National Population Council (NPC) has appealed to government to tackle family planning, a population control initiative, as an economic intervention rather than a health issue.
The NPC believes that doing so will deepen the benefit of the country considering the impact of an unplanned population on the country’s scarce resources.
“I believe that family planning should be ring-fenced and treated as an economic intervention.Though it can be treated as health, it should be given the necessary economic recognition considering its numerous economic advantages over health.
Population growth rate is not making us grow economically, so it is high time we championed family planning as an economic intervention and not as a health issue,” Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, Executive Director of NPC,said.
Dr. Adelaide Appiah made this statement at a workshop organised for media personnel on the theme: “Population and development including sexual and reproductive health, with the objective to build the capacity of the media on key population, health and development issues confronting Ghana.”
According to her, when family planning is seen as a health intervention, it competes with other critical health issues like malaria, cholera, amongst others, adding “but if it can be singled out as an economic intervention, then it will be something like the 1-District 1-Factory (1D1F) initiative and a policy will be drafted to that effect to make it work for the good of the nation.”
The NPC was established in1992 by an Act of Parliament (Act 485, 1994), as the highest advisory body to the government of Ghana on national population policy. Also, Article 37, clause 4, mandates the NPC as part of its functions to adopt and maintain a National Population Policy (NPP).
Based on this function, Ghana adopted NPP in 1969, revised it in 1994 and eventually developed an Adolescent Reproductive Health Policy(ARHP) in 2000. The goal of the ARHP was ‘to encourage the development and implementation of activities and services that will help to enhance and expand the options available to adolescents in the area of reproductive health’.
The ARHP is also to inculcate in the youth the idea of responsible sexual behaviour, the small family size norm, the pursuit of career, values of responsible adulthood and mutual respect for the people of the opposite sex’.
But according to Dr. Leticia, the implementation of NPP and its associate ARHP has not been successful due to lack of commitment from stakeholders and the fact that past governments does not comprehend its impact.
Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, Dean of School of Information and Communication, University of Ghana and chairperson of the occasion, commenting on the importance of the workshop said, it was necessary for journalists to understand data on population, its implications and consequences to the country.
“This workshop is meant to provide journalists with an opportunity to examine their own attitude towards sexual and reproductive health because if not challenged, they will continue to report on it in a way that does not challenge most people to the right kinds of action,” she said.
According to her, one of the challenges confronting family planning in the country is the low use of contraceptives among Ghanaians, which she added requires, a change in people’s perception.