Undoubtedly, it is a fact that Ghana’s population keeps on increasing rapidly from 24.6 million in 2010 and is estimated to increase to 29.6 million in 2019 according to the National Population Council (NPC). The current population of the country per the United Nations (UN) is ranked the 48th in the list of densely populated countries in the world.
As the world mark World Population Day on July 11, 2019, it behooves on all stakeholders, families and civil society organizations to support advocacy for all Ghanaians to embrace family planning. This year’s theme is ‘reproductive health and gender equality for sustainable development’.
The population of Upper East Region for instance, a predominantly rural region, according to statistics from the NPC would increase from 1, 046,545 in 2010 to an estimated number of 1, 273,677 by the end of 2019.
The repercussion of the growing population of the country can greatly affect the country’s economy and social amenities. The country’s growing population turns to create pollution due to a challenge in managing human excreta and rubbish.
But in order to avert an overpopulated country and its challenges, individuals need to embrace family planning. Family planning allows individuals or couples to decide on the desired number of children, spacing and timing of birth. It is achieved through the use of contraceptive methods.
Family planning empowers women, boosts the financial position of the family and enhances socio-economic growth.
Family planning which slows down population growth increases a country’s wealth. There is no doubt that when savings are made as a result of reduced government expenditure on social services on its residents; there will be transformation in the economy with more jobs created.
Health wise, family planning has the potential of saving the lives of many women and children and averting maternal mortality.
Government’s vision to provide equitable access to quality and child-friendly universal education at the basic to Senior High School level will be hampered if individuals and families do not embrace family planning concept. Also, a lower population growth will lessen the burden on teachers and help maintain a low teacher-pupil ratio for optimal teaching and learning.
Parents on the other hand will be at ease in ensuring their wards get the best education if they practice family planning.
Government will also spend less in building new schools and such investments can be used to improve social interventions targeted at students.
Indeed, access to family planning is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly, eradicating extreme poverty, ending hunger, good health, quality education, promoting gender equality, good jobs and economic, as well ensuring environmental sustainability.
The 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, held in Teheran, Iran, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right states that “parents have a basic human right to determined freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”
The United Nation (UN) on many occasions such as the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development, the Beijing platform for Action as well the Cairo International Conference on Population Development have championed the importance of family planning. All these are geared towards attaining the SDGs.
Upper East Regional Population Officer, Alosiba Akare Azam says the country can achieve the SDGs if family planning concept is embraced by all.
“If the population grows, it tells that families too are also having more people and how to take care of them will be a challenge. So, if we don’t practice family planning it will make the country difficult to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”
Mr. Azam laments that despite the enormous benefits of family planning, the Upper East Region for instance records low uptake of it due to religious and cultural misconceptions.
He also says in traditional and religious settings, there are beliefs that man must multiply to fill the earth. This, he says is a setback to government’s advocacy on families to embrace family planning.
One way to address this developmental issue is the state institutions to intensify sensitization and advocacy campaigns among traditional and religious leaders on the importance and benefits family planning while dispelling myths and misconceptions about it.
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) should step up its sensitization as it has roped in family planning in some municipal and district schemes across the country.
The Ghana Health Service should continue to provide orientation to its staff, as sections of the public are raising red flags on poor attitude of staff which is greatly affecting the acceptance of family planning.
The media on the other hand should step up its education to wade off the stigma associated with family planning concept.
When family planning is treated as a human right, it has a long-term effect on the economic growth and sustainable development to effectively move ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’.
This feature is written by Joshua Asaah