GHS launches “Atoua” TV series for family planning education

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Ghana Health Services (GHS)
Ghana Health Services (GHS)

The Family Health Division of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has launched “Atoua”, a TV series to aid family planning education.

The launch is part of activities to celebrate 2022 Family Planning Week.
A-T-O-U-A, which literally means should it happen to you, in the Akan Language, seeks to educate young people on their reproductive health, highlighting the risks and unhealthy decisions that can affect their education and aspirations.

The education will be through tv series, social media and community outreaches to engage young people, parents and other relevant stakeholders on key issues relating to reproductive health.

Dr Kofi Issah, Director, Family Health Division, said the GHS was happy to embark on the campaign to break myths and misconceptions while engaging young people and supporting them with the right tools and services as they turned into puberty and adulthood.

He called on communities to join the campaign by using each episode of the series to hold discussions with young people at homes, schools, churches and among peer groups to collectively empower the youth.

The 2022 National Family Planning Week, on the theme: “Breaking Myths and Misconceptions on Family Planning,” is to mobilise support to shape the future.

Dr Issah said the country had made progress in the total fertility rate and improving the lives of women and families such that within a quarter of a century, total births per woman reduced from 6.4 in 1988 to 4.2 in 2014 as reported in the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS).

He stated that the 2021 Population and Housing Census also provided further information that household size had reduced from 4.4 in 2010 to 3.6 in 2021, indicating that a lot of progress had been made in the area of family planning and other population strategies.

The Director noted that currently, there was over 35 per cent acceptance of family planning in the country.

He said, however, there remained a large unmet need for contraception in the county, saying despite the almost universal knowledge in family planning (over 90per cent), the practice of contraception remained low at 25 per cent married women for modern methods with 62 per cent of sexually active adolescents having an unmet need for family planning.

He said some socio-economic and cultural factors were mainly responsible for the low utilisation of available maternal health services, including family planning services.

The fear of side effects, rumours, myths and misconceptions were the most frequently cited reasons for the non-use of modern family planning methods.

Others are poor attitudes of health workers and provider bias.

Dr Issah said it was, therefore, important to create awareness to advocate increased commitment to family planning as an essential component of national health and socio-economic development.

Activities outlined for the weeklong celebration include media and stakeholder engagement meetings, television and radio discussions, provision of free services at selected locations, health talks for organised groups, floats and other community mobilisation and awareness creation activities.

He encouraged all stakeholders to get on board to deliver the key messages in a client-friendly manner and for communities to forge stronger partnerships with service providers, development partners and others to address the factors contributing to the large unmet need for contraception use.

Dr Stephen Ayisi-Addo, the Programme Manager, National STIs and AIDS Control Programme (NACP), urged the youth not to underestimate the importance of condoms as a family planning tool as it helped to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Dr Ayisi-Addo advised the youth to use contraceptives correctly, consistently, and continuously to be free from HIV and pregnancies to make informed choices for better survival and development.

Dr Joseph Aidoo, Marie Stopes International, Ghana, (MSI), said the recent report from a pilot study on the inclusion of family planning on NHIS, gave an essential insight that removing cost alone was not enough to advance access.
“We need to develop and implement strategic SBCC interventions to address these myths and misconceptions while also building critical partnerships with other national development sectors,” he stated.

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