Marie Stopes International Ghana (MSIG) has stepped up its efforts to ensure uptake of family planning services in the country through the implementation of a project to empower women to realise their reproductive health and rights.
The project, which has been running for a year now with support from Canada, has helped to improve on the capacity of most rural service providers through trainings, provision of equipment, and logistics to enable them to provide the full range of family planning services both in the rural and urban areas.
The beneficiaries include public hospitals in Northern, North-East, Savannah, Ashanti and Bono Regions and private hospitals across the country.
Mr George Akanlu, Acting Country Director of MSIG, who made a presentation on the project at a stakeholders’ meeting in Tamale, said the focus of the project was to ensure that, “any woman, who walks into any public and private facility supported by MSIG in the country, should have access to family planning services.”
The stakeholders’ meeting, which brought together representatives from the health sector, civil society organisations and traditional authorities from the northern sector, was to enable MSIG to share its new vision with partners, and jointly strengthen their commitment to advance sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls in the country.
They discussed the importance of family planning, and how as partners, they could address the main challenges impeding the uptake of family planning in the country looking at both the supply and the demand side issues.
Mr Akanlu spoke about what MSIG was doing as part of the project to address the supply side issues, which included trainings for service providers to build their capacity, provision of equipment, and putting in place other logistics around stock management, having the right data collection tools to provide the full range of family planning services to women and girls.
On the demand side, he spoke about behaviour change communication; trying to deal with the myths and misconceptions around family planning, trying to educate the people about family planning and trying to create the enabling environment for people to access family planning to ensure that cost did not become a barrier.
He said: “In totality, the focus is to ensure that any woman, who walks into any public and private facility supported by MSIG in the country, should have access to family planning services. Skills should not be a challenge, availability of equipment should not be a challenge, and cost should not be a challenge.”
He was happy that government had included family planning services onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) urging all facilities to respect the new regime to ensure that no woman should be charged for coming to a facility to access family planning.
Dr Yaa Asante, Family Planning Programmes Manager at the Ghana Health Service (GHS) lauded the collaboration between the GHS and MSIG saying it was yielding positive results in the family planning sector adding “With the continued support, we will be able to reach all our targeted population.”
Mr Abdul Latif Issahaque, Northern Regional Director of National Health Insurance Authority was optimistic that the inclusion of family planning services on the NHIS would further help to improve access to such services for all women in the country to protect them to amongst others address issues of maternal mortality.