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05.07.2005 General News

Deaths of children to fall if ...

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Accra, July 5, GNA - Deaths of children under-five years of age in Ghana would fall by 21,700 annually if birth intervals were increased from 24 months to 36 months, Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, National Family Planning Programme Coordinator of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said in Accra on Tuesday.

She said infant mortality rate would drop by 27 per cent whilst under-five mortality would also drop by 23 per cent if family planning methods were effectively adopted.

Dr Quansah Asare, who said this at the GHS monthly health programme under the theme, "Family Planning: Everybody's Business", stressed that family planning should be every individual's business to make life a better one for all.

Among those present at the meeting were Queenmothers of Ga Traditional Council.

She noted that there was low level of contraceptive use, high proportion of traditional methods and high levels of unmet needs leading to many unwanted pregnancies, abortions and unintended births. "Eliminating unmet needs will allow individuals and couples to achieve their reproductive goals and rights by reducing abortions, unintended births and pregnancies."

Dr Quansah Asare explained that two-thirds of married women in the country did not intend to use family planning in future for various reasons, which include fears of side effects, their husbands opposing the idea and demanding more children while some did not know any method at all.

She noted that though some users might experience discomfort when they first used any of the family planning methods, the benefits of avoiding unwanted pregnancy far outweighed the temporary discomforts. She said it was unfortunate that some men had negative attitude towards family planning. To some men, she said, contraception was solely a woman's business and that women users became promiscuous.

Dr Quansah Asare cautioned that emergency contraception and abortion should not be promoted as regular family planning methods stressing that emergency contraception was not 100 per cent safe. Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, Director-General of GHS, said many women had lost their lives during pregnancy and delivery, which could have been prevented and that the role of family planning was very crucial to save the lives of such women and children. He said 15 per cent of all pregnancies were in teenagers and attributed the upsurge to "the system" in which these young girls found themselves adding, "they are not to be blamed because the system is just not protecting them".

He called on Queenmothers and parents to start educating their young ones on sex since it was now everybody's business. "Sex education used to be a taboo 50 years ago and that should be discouraged."