Accra, June 14, GNA - Dr Samuel Nii Noi Ashong, Minister of State In-Charge of Economic Planning, on Monday called on Statisticians to come out with strategies of improving upon existing data on fertility, mortality and disabilities to ensure proper planning, monitoring and effective implementation of programmes.
He said lack of data updates had been a major set back for proper implementation of programmes such as employment opportunities, inadequate education and educational facilities, restrictive employment as well as inadequate Medicare Systems for persons with disability. Dr Ashong made the call at a five-day workshop on improving statistics on fertility, mortality and disability in Africa for 14 African countries including Ghana, Namibia, Mauritius and South Africa organised by the United Nations with support from the Ghana Statistical Service.
Participants are expected to address issues relating to the development of statistics on fertility, mortality and disability that enables Statisticians and demographers to assess available data, identify gaps and see how best to make quality data available to users.
Dr Ashong said most African countries relied on the western countries when it got to conducting surveys and the collection of other demographic data.
"We as Africans, need to learn to conduct our own surveys and gather data so that we would be abreast with the real issues on the ground and know how best to deal with them," he said.
He said the Government appreciated the involvement of the donor community in their assistance to generate data and towards the attainment of the whole socio-economic goals of the country.
Dr Ashong noted that persons with disability in many African countries, of which Ghana was one, were yet to be fully absorbed into the mainstream of socio-economic development.
"The year 2000 census in Ghana recorded more than 123,000 economically inactive persons living with disability," he said. He said the Government in the year 2000 developed a National Policy Document, which aimed at enhancing the dignity of all citizens to contribute to the nation's wealth, which all would enjoy in the prosperity.
He said the policy document recognised the need for integrating persons with disabilities in the mainstream of socio-economic life of their communities that would significantly contribute to achieve the vision of poverty reduction, employment creation and improvement in their incomes.
"A reliable and accurate data is, therefore, paramount to achieving the goals of the poverty reduction strategy in Ghana." Dr Ashong further said a regular source of data on mortality and fertility was through a civic registration system, which in Africa was faced with a lot of challenges.
He thus urged the participants to assess the state of civil registration and make recommendations to their governments. He said for most countries in Africa, the system did not exist and even where it did, the coverage was low and limited to mainly the urban areas.
"In Ghana the Births and Deaths Registry as in all African countries covered 31 per cent of expected total births in the year 2000, 27 per cent in 2001, 17 per cent in 2002 and 28 per cent in 2003. There are no reliable data for the registration of completeness of deaths," he said.
Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, Vice Chancellor, University of Ghana, Legon, said some good policies and programmes had failed because of inadequate monitoring and evaluation.
He called on African governments to pay attention to the level of disability in their population, so that they were not left out in decision-making.
He said high fertility of African women had contributed to a high population growth rate, which had negatively affected Africa's development.
Mr Srdjan Mrkic of UN Statistics Division said it was the ultimate goal of the UN to help produce a reliable population statistics all over the two hundred national statistical systems worldwide. He thanked the Ghana Statistical Service for their support for the programme.