The Upper East Regional Population Officer of the National Population Council (NPC), Mr. Alosibah Akare Azam, has called for the prioritization of reproductive health rights and choices to control population growth for a sustainable development.
He said teenage pregnancy and child marriage had become a major national concern, putting a strain on limited resources and infrastructure and called for measures to control births.
He said that when people, especially the younger generation, have accurate information about their sexual and reproductive health, they make informed decisions, including increasing the acceptability of family planning, to ensure safer sex so to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, among others.
Azam was speaking in Bolgatanga at the meeting of the Regional Population Advisory Committee organized by the National Population Council.
This was part of the activities marking this year’s World Population Day under the theme: “Putting Rights and Choices First: Seizing Opportunity, the Path to a Resilient Future for All”.
“The lack of prioritization of reproductive rights and choices results in a high unmet need for family planning. Irrespective of this, the situation manifests in the cultural reasons for child marriage and child marriage negatively affects married children themselves and the nation as a whole,” he said.
Ms. Dora Kulariba, Regional Adolescent Health Coordinator, Upper East, Ghana Health Service, explained that the acceptability rate for family planning services in the region is low.
The region recorded 35%, 39.5% and 34.5% in the first quarters of 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.
This, she said, led to a high number of teenage pregnancies, with the region reaching 15.2%, 15.1% and 14.9% respectively in the first quarters of 2020, 2021 and 2022. .
Ms. Kulariba noted that there was a need to strengthen stakeholder engagement to ensure that parents are made aware of the importance of sex education for their children at home in order to make informed decisions.
She said the move would also help break societal norms and encourage young people to visit health facilities to access youth-friendly health services regarding their sex lives.
Alhaji Ibrahim Habila, Deputy Director of Administration of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council, reading a speech on behalf of Mr. Stephen Yakubu, Upper East Regional Minister, instructed stakeholders in the region to work together to address the challenges facing the growth and development of young people, to reduce teenage pregnancy, child marriage and poverty.