Selorm Azumah, Senior Advisor at Ipas Ghana, a global non-governmental organisation dedicated to ending preventable deaths and disabilities from unsafe abortion, has called for the implementation of the comprehensive reproductive health education (CRHE) in the country.
According to him, Ghana could greatly reduce the incidence of unsafe abortion and its related complications if citizens, especially girls and women, are equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values they need to determine and enjoy sexuality physically and emotionally as individuals and in relationships.
He said misconceptions such as adolescents will become promiscuous when they are educated about their reproductive health rights at an early age are not factual since research indicates that adolescents who are exposed to the topic delay their initiation of sex.
Mr Azumah was making a presentation at a one-day sensitisation workshop on CRHE for health journalists in Accra organised by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG).
Touching on 'Ghana Abortion Law', Mr Azumah explained that the law as stated in the Criminal Code of the 1992 Constitution is progressively liberal as it spells out the legal indications for safe abortion.
The conditions, he said, include risk to life or injury to physical or mental health of the woman must be conducted by a registered medical practitioner specialising in gynaecology and in a government, private hospital or clinic registered or place approved by the Ministry of Health, among others.
He, however, mentioned that ignorance of what the law says and lack of proper counselling drive many women to have unsafe abortions, which leave them maimed and in some cases lose their lives.
Mr Azumah, therefore, stated that where abortion is not against the law, health systems should train and equip health service providers and should take other measures to ensure abortion is safe and accessible.
“Health care providers, women and communities need to be educated about the law,” he said.
Selassie Ishmael, Youth Programme Coordinator, PPAG, added that challenges, including non-evidence-based curricular, abstinence only approach, the lack of systematic set of topics for the out of school programmes on reproductive health, age appropriateness of the topics introduced and lack of topics to qualify to be comprehensive have hindered the uptake of CRHE in the country.
He pointed out that PPAG has, thus, developed a document on CRHE which is aged-based, segmented for both school and out of school programme and covers all the needed modules.
Selassie Ishmael said PPAG aims to achieve buy-in among various stakeholders, translating accepted topics in teaching syllabus, among others, through the document.