Patronage of family planning services is still a major challenge in the Sissala East District, as it has consistently stagnated and declined in the family planning contraceptive and acceptor rate for the past two years. For instance, family planning coverage in the district declined from 50.7 per cent in 2012, to 45 per cent in 2013, making it one of the least performed districts in the region.
Dr. Abdulai Forgor, Upper West Regional Director of Health Services attributed the low Contraceptive usage and acceptor rate in the district to some cultural beliefs held by the people, as well as the non-involvement of men in family planning, and the disapproval of the service for their wives.
Dr. Forgor raised the concerns at this year?s Upper West Regional Family Planning Week celebration held in Tumu on Tuesday, to create awareness and generate support among the people to achieve 65 per cent of contraceptive and acceptor rate family planning services in 2015.
He said though family planning was one of the most cost-effective interventions available to save lives and improve the health of mothers and children, much work must be done to turn the knowledge into action, and galvanize local stakeholders to support the poorest and most isolated women, in their desire to plan their families and deliver their children safely.
The Regional Director said it was evidenced that if couples kept pregnancies for more than two years apart, more than 30 per cent of maternal deaths and 10 per cent of child deaths would be prevented.
Dr. Forgor said closely-spaced pregnancies held the greatest risk to the health of mothers and their new borns, and explained that voluntary contraceptive use, could help avert more than half of all the maternal deaths in the developing world. ?This result lays bare our moral obligation to ensure universal access to family planning.
Inaction is no longer an option?, he said, pointing out that the provision of access to Family Planning was about social justice; upholding the rights of women and men to choose. Dr. Forgor urged stakeholders in the health sector to continue to push on the other entire key factors, including ensuring girls’ education, access to skilled birth attendance, and overall improvement in the living conditions of mothers.
He said the regional health directorate was committed to working in partnership with all stakeholders and local communities, to put the needed solutions in place to achieve the goal, and to ensure that all women had equal access to quality and affordable services for maternal and child health, including family planning.
The health directorate was determined to close the family planning gap and accelerate efforts on maternal and child survival and health, he said.
The regional director said much more attention would be paid to adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 19, who have the highest unmet needs for family planning, to reduce early childbearing, which was a contributory factor to maternal deaths.
Dr Forgor said health workers would embark on mass communication and advocacy meetings to demystify the misconception and some of the outmoded socio-cultural barriers militating against the utilization of family planning services in the region.
He appealed to government to include family planning services in the National Health Insurance Service, and make it free for all women and girls.
Mr. Johnson Saborh, Sissala East District Chief Executive, said over the years, the district assembly had invested in the construction and furnishing of Community Based Health Planning and Service (CHPS) Compounds.
So far, the district has been provided with 12 CHPS compounds, with the Tumu Post-Basic Midwifery Training School benefiting from a storey block, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) would also support the Assembly?s efforts with nine facilities by the end of 2015.
Mr. Saborh noted that promotion of family planning and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples was essential to securing the wellbeing and autonomy of women.
He attributed the low patronage of family planning contraceptives to ignorance on the part of the people, inadequate health personnel, and extreme immorality among the youth, which he said, was the cause of teenage pregnancies leading to high maternal deaths.