18.01.2005 Feature Article

Ghana needs a population control policy

Ghana needs a population control policy
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“In the last fifty years, the only thing that the Ghanaian has successfully mastered is how to make babies”. - Ken Ntiamoa I attended a funeral in Toronto over the weekend. I listened in amazement as a fellow extolled the accomplishments of the deceased in a eulogy. “He had 40 children and 120 grand and great grand children.” And I ask, is that really an accomplishment?

In his inaugural speech on January 7, 2005 President Kufuor made a comment that seemed to the un-attentive ear as casual. To me, I believe, the President said something that has been worrying me for a very long time. And hopefully, he is concerned, too. The President mentioned that at independence on March 7, 1957 Ghana had a comfortable level of financial resources and a manageable population of some 4 million people. Fifty years later, our dear country has little financial resources and a souring population of some 20 million people. (My comments). I read somewhere that the population at independence was 6.5 million. However, I believe that the President is in a better position to know than I. Even at 6.5 million in 1957, Ghana has tripled its population in 50 years and to me that's alarming. How I wish all our other resources had grown at that phenomenal rate as well. It's as if in the last fifty years, the only thing that the Ghanaian has successfully mastered is how to make babies . Whether you agree with me or not, I would like to sound a warning that nature has its own way of controlling the population and the resources of planet earth. Nature knows that, the earth cannot over-populate itself, deplete its resources and survive. So, nature will control our population for us, if we do not control it ourselves. At the risk of sounding callous and insensitive, I would like to point out that the incidence of HIV/Aids, mass migrations and increased catastrophes around the world, are all warning signs that mother earth is overstretched.

It can be argued that, many centuries ago, the peoples of present day Ghana needed to have lots of children for many reasons. Nature was at war with us. Diseases and calamities claimed many lives. A mother would be lucky to have three living children after ten births. Many families needed more farm hands to produce enough food to feed the rest. With diseases such as measles, whooping cough, malaria, dysentery, convulsions and tuberculosis under control, infant mortality has drastically reduced. Today, a mother can have ten children and expect nine or all ten of them to live. And yet, the modern day Ghanaian mother and father have not recognized the need to reduce the number of births. The large number of births that was a necessity in the days gone by has become our tradition. And tradition dies hard, they say. Times have changed and we must learn to change with the times.

At the current rate of growth, Ghana's population could top 60 million in another fifty years, if not controlled. Luckily, I would be dead and gone by then. But, I would hate to see how Accra is then. Even today, you can hardly move your car at rush hour in Accra. I can't imagine how anybody could move around in Accra in 50 more years, rush hour or not.

The introduction of The National Health Insurance Plan will further slow down the incidence of unnecessary deaths from curable diseases. On the other hand, it could help to fuel the rapid increase in the country's population as more and more people have access to affordable medical care. And this is why I urge the Government to introduce the NHIS program in tandem with a Population Control Policy.

Our mothers and sisters are giving birth to too many children that they cannot adequately cater for. When you are brave enough to tell them, they retort with “God will take care of them.” I happen to think that God is tired. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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