The Upper East Regional Population Officer, Mr Alosibah Akare Azam, has observed that adherence to Family Planning (FP), which is central to gender equality and women empowerment, could lead to poverty reduction and improved living standards of the people.
Mr Azan, who made the observation during an interaction with some media practitioners in Bolgatanga on Friday to mark the World Population Day, explained that many people still held the old cultural belief that wealth was judged by the number of children one had.
Mr Azam said the phenomenon was not only worsening the poverty situation of the region, but it had also financial implications on feeding, education and health among others on children.
“In conversations with some women in the region, we hear that the struggles of having many children have financial implications on feeding, education and health of the children. Yet their partners, family heads and members oppose the use of FP to limit childbearing,” the Regional Population Officer, revealed.
He said the region’s population had been increasing over the years and cited that between 2000 and 2010, the population increased from 920, 089 to 1,046,545 with an inter-censual annual growth rate of 1.2 per cent.
Mr Azam stated that the projected population for the region for 2019 is 1,273,677 and it is expected to reach 1,302,718 in 2020 when the next Population and Housing Census would be conducted.
The Regional Population Officer attributed the region’s relatively high fertility rate to low use of modern contraceptives and also expressed worry about the spate of teenage pregnancies among girls in the region.
He said most girls who became pregnant whilst in school often dropped out and go into early marriage and begin procreating at that tender age which could be detrimental to their health status.
Mr Azam called on traditional and religious leaders to use their various platforms to invite health professionals to sensitise their constituents on the need to patronise FP and reproductive health services.
Whilst also stressing on the need for traditional leaders to abolish negative cultural practices that forbids couples from practicing FP, the Regional Population Officer called on Health Service Providers to desist from making negative comments that would discourage the people, particularly the youth from patronising reproductive health services.
On July 11 every year, the World Population Day is celebrated to highlight the population issues at the global and national levels and the urgent need to review existing policies and programmes to address them.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, BOLGATANGA