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27.07.2005 General News

Give priority to family Panning issues -Prof

GNA

Accra, July 27, GNA- Professor Fred T. Sai, Presidential Advisor on Population and HIV/AIDS issues on Wednesday called on political leaders to give priority to Family Planning (FP) issues that would complement poverty eradication strategies. He said though the political leadership has been willing to accept the importance of FP to the development effort, "it has nevertheless given, over the year rather low key or inconsistent signals and messages and the national programme has never had visible political support it requires."

He regretted the little attention given to FP issues over the years, which he said, has led to the high increase in unplanned pregnancies and increasing the population of the country. Prof. Sai made the call in Accra at a day's national symposium on "Repositioning Family," organised by the national Leadership Group on Reproductive Health/Family Planning in association with Pathfinder International (Ghana).

The symposium offered stakeholders the opportunity to adopt the national FP strategy development in Ghana. Prof. Sai noted that FP have been integrated out of health and other development programmes, adding that FP was no more a health issue but a developmental one and therefore should be given the needed national attention.

He called for a strong advocacy for leaders to rededicate themselves, develop comprehensive policies for reproductive and sexual health and rights programmes to give FP its rightful place in policy development. He said programmes must be well resourced financially with well-trained personnel and donor fund should be sourced and utilised efficiently.

"Laws and regulations which impede the expansion of programmes too difficult to reach areas and groups must be reviewed and over medicalisation of FP must be avoided," he added.

Professor Andy Aryee and Dr Benedicta Ababio, FP consultants who worked on the strategy said there was low level of contraceptive usage, unintended pregnancies, abortions, high unmet needs and high maternal and infant mortality rates and called for a national review and redirection of FP programmes.

According to them, there was a gap between policy formulation and innovative, achievable strategic plans to meet identified targets at all levels and consistent gap between knowledge and its use. They called for the need to increase and improve Ghana's FP targets and progress indicators and contribute to the reduction in maternal and infant mortality rates for improved health and development. Mr Samuel Owusu Agyei, deputy Minster of Health expressed government's commitment in ensuring that FP issues were given the needed attention.

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, Director-General of Ghana Health Service called for the involvement of traditional leaders in the dissemination of FP issues and ensuring that it was accepted by the public.

The Reverend Fred Deegbe, on behalf of the Christian Council of Ghana expressed the Council's support for FP and pledged their support for ensuring that FP was repositioned for development. Maulvi Wahab Adam, Ameer and Missionary in charge of Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission called on religious leaders to intensify their moral teachings among the youth.

Dr Makane Kane, UNFPA Representative to Ghana reiterated the need to prioritise FP in order to achieve the target set for 2010. 27 July 05

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