A senior medical doctor at the Police Hospital, Dr Samuel Botchway, has called on health sector policymakers and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), to reconsider the development and implementation of family planning education and sensitisation programmes targeted at teenagers.
According to him, there is an increasing trend of teenage pregnancy cases among teenagers, especially, school dropouts and head potters (kayayei), hence, the need to bring family planning education to their doorstep as they fear patronising health institutions for help.
Previous family planning education and sensitisation campaigns were very effective and yielded good results but almost all of them have faded away and so there is a need to reintroduce these campaigns with a specific target audience being the youthful population, especially, school dropouts and ‘kayayei’, he added.
He made this call following the alarming number of pregnant teenagers and teen mothers who turned up for a free health screening activity organised by the Bethel SDA Church in Osu.
Dr. Botchway indicated that a change of mindset is very important in this fight against teenage pregnancy, and to change mindsets, education and continuous sensitisation is the best, hence, the need to intensify education programmes in various languages and through multiple media that can better target this marginalised group.
Adding to that, he explained that currently, most public health institutions have dedicated facilities or desks purposely for family planning at highly subsidised rates. However, the ‘kayayei’ group are either not aware, or feeling reluctant to go because they feel those facilities are meant for the educated, hence, the call for the private sector and NGOs to get involved in bringing it to the doorstep of these people, he explained.
“The main challenge we are noting is that there are a lot of teenage mothers among the population, this is a very young population we have here and to be seeing such a trend is alarming.
Going forward, I think we should enhance and bring to their doorstep family planning services and programmes because looking at them, I am not convinced they will like to move to a health facility. Besides, most of them do not even know about these services, they do not even know how pregnancy happens, all they knew is something happened and there was a pregnancy,” he said.
He reiterated that it is not about the cost because family planning services are highly subsidized, with some going for as low as GH¢5, so the important thing is education and sensitisation among such ‘kayayei’ groups and remote communities.
The teenage pregnancy rate is very low among the educated because even at 25 years, the girl child is still in school trying to pursue a dream; but on the other hand, the school dropouts and ‘kayayei’ are exposed to so many social vices, and less informed about protective measures.
With Ghana’s commitment to multilateral treaties and conventions including United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a quick response to such an important call by the medical officer would be playing a good mitigative role but it is also critical to showing commitment to meeting SDG-3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; SDG-4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; SDG-5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; SDG-8: Provide right productive employment and decent work for all.