22.05.2004 Health

Ghana lacks youth-friendly reproductive health services- Baah-Wiredu

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Accra, May 22, GNA- Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports has said the country lacked adequate friendly reproductive health information and services to deal with reproductive issues related to the youth. He noted that even with the few service outlets available, the providers were quite often not youth friendly.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu who was speaking at the opening of the 37th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Plan Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) in Accra, recommended an inter agency collaboration initiatives among the Government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to address sexual and reproductive concerns.

The AGM would deliberate on poverty, sexual and reproductive health, the two challenges facing the youth. He noted that the combined effects of poverty and poor reproductive health status for young people were socially and economically, damaging.

Mr Baah-Wiredu attributed such set backs to the break down of extended families by poverty and exposing the youth to inappropriate social influences. He also mentioned parental neglect, peer influence and insufficient education on infectious diseases such as sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) had chosen health and education as priority areas to enhance social services. He said in the last two decades, Ghana had made steady progress in poverty alleviation with indicators showing that wealth, education and water supply had shown signs of considerable improvement.

"It is unfortunate to mention that records on health and nutrition are still not the best we would have liked", he added. Mr Baah-Wiredu noted that efforts to reduce poverty trends were captured in the expansion of education through the HIPC Initiative, which focused on increasing knowledge and skills of Ghanaians. "Other interventions are the allocation of resources based on the set priorities as government provides basic services in healthcare, education, security and infrastructure, and encourages domestic savings and investment", he said.

Dr Frances Owusu Daaku, President of PPAG outlining the achievements of the association, said much had been done to improve the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services with its information reaching over 2.3 million people mainly young people. She said PPAG was able to distribute over four million male condoms, 50,533 female condoms, 991,729 oral contraceptive pills, 2,553 Norplant for women and provided seven men with vasectomy services. Over 145,000 couples were also fully protected from getting pregnant during the year.

Dr Daaku noted that two PPAG clinics in the Central Region were, upgraded to the status of health centres by the Ghana Health Service (GHS). She said any achievement in the field of SRH and improved poverty levels, demanded a collective responsibility and called for the continuous support of donors, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the youth to address the challenges facing them.

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