Rural women use contraceptives more than urban women-GHS

Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye(middle) addressing stakeholders at the conference Photo Seth Osabukle

Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye(middle) addressing stakeholders at the conference Photo Seth Osabukle

More women in urban and peri-urban areas across the country are shying away from the use of family planning (FP) methods as compared to those in the rural areas, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has observed.

According to the GHS, the use of contraceptives among rural women had shot up between 5 to 10 per cent while that of the peri-urban areas remained less than 5 per cent, within the last two years.

Director, Family Health Division of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye attributed the decline in FP services among most women in peri-urban areas to lack of access to products, cost (where some contraceptives may be over priced), and time factor as such women seemed too busy to attend to FP issues.

He was speaking in an interview with the Ghanaian Times at the opening of a two-day event to track Ghana’s FP target which seeks to more women and girls use contraceptives by 2020.

Held on the theme, “Countdown to 2020: Ghana’s Journey,” the forum, jointly organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), GHS and Ministry of Health (MOH), evaluated challenges and strides made by the country in achieving the goals which had barely two years to expire.

According to Dr Kuma-Aboagye, Ghana’s FP 2020 commitment targeted, among others, to increase the use of modern contraceptive rate among married or women generally from 22 to 29.7 per cent by 2020 and was important that access to FP was improved in such areas.

“What we have seen is that, the demand for FP is high in the peri-urban areas. They want it but the utilisation is much lower and we need to collectively find innovative ways of reaching out to such women,” he urged.

In that regard, the director mentioned interventions by the GHS including the introduction of a mobile application software to allow women to easily locate the nearest FP commodity to purchase while reducing the financial burden associated with FP services by incorporating it into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

“Currently, a law on that has been passed by Parliament and we have begun piloting it since May till the next two years in about 7 selected districts across the country for valid NHIS subscribers. The success or otherwise of it will inform us on modalities for full implementation when the pilot ends,” he stated.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye, however, projected that Ghana was most likely to meet its 2020 target as there had generally been a significant leap in the numbers of women using FP methods saying, “we targeted reaching 30 per cent by 2020 and reduce total fertility rate to about 3.0 by then but looking at our forecast, we are doing far better than what we anticipated when we signed unto the commitment in 2012 and maybe we may have to set higher targets.”

A Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu expressed the government’s commitment to achieve “what we set out to do by 2020, and to forge ahead beyond 2020 with the same enthusiasm and drive to ensure equitable access to quality and affordable family planning services.”

He called for collaboration among all stakeholders in order to improve on gains made so far to increase access to accurate information and “uptake of family planning services which will lead to a decline in the unmet need among women while increasing the contraceptive prevalence rate for married women using modern methods by 2020 and beyond.”

The Country Representative of the UNFPA, Niyi Ojuolape urged the government to advance domestic funding for FP commodities as donor support in the field declined, pledging the UNFPA’s unwavering support to the country as it strengthened “partnerships and work innovatively for synergy to achieve the various commitments by 2020.”

By Abigail Annoh

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