Ghana’s growing population
Ghana National Population Council (NPC), joins the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s World Population Day World population day presents an opportunity to educate the general public on population related issues, marshal governmental commitment and support to address such challenges as we may be confronted with.
From the technical view point, it is a day that focuses attention on the urgency and importance of addressing key population issues not limited to overpopulation, environmental protection and sustainability, gender equality, poverty, maternal health, human rights and child marriages.
From its historical perspective it was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations in 1989. A time when the world’s population hit 5 billion; an alarming situation that stimulated debate stakeholders over the earth’s carrying capacity.
Each year globally, on 11th July a theme is fixed to celebrate and raise awareness on population related-issues. This year’s World Population Day will be celebrated virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic under the theme ‘safeguarding the health and rights of women and girls around the world especially during the time of COVID-19 pandemic’.
This year’s theme is relevant and timely as it seeks to address sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls and their related abuses at all levels, irrespective of age, sex, ethnic, and religion or health status. It also helps them make informed choices regarding their own sexuality and reproductive lifestyle. It is generally acknowledged that safeguarding the sexual and reproductive health of many people especially women and girls is key to ensuring that they are equal and free to make decisions in all domains of life devoid of discrimination, violence or coercion. It is on this premise that women and girls, in particular, are reliant if they are to enjoy a life of choices, empowerment and equality.
Inclusiveness to the above is the right to make choices freely in marriage, family formation as well as determining the number, timing and spacing of their children. For such rights to be exercised and enjoyed fully, women and girls must be supported with quality access to information, services and the means by which they can exercise their voluntary choices.
Practically and to a large extent, voluntary choices save lives and reduce ill-health. According to WHO recommended standards, if all pregnant women and their new-borns were to receive care, if all women who want to avoid unplanned pregnancies had access to modern contraceptives, the life-saving benefits would be significant. Maternal deaths would drop by 67 percent, new-born deaths by 77percent, and unintended pregnancies by 70 percent.
Again, women and new-borns’ burden of disability related to pregnancy and childbirth would also drop by 66percent. Transmission of HIV from mothers to new-borns would be nearly eliminated at 93percent reduction the report added.
The benefits are obvious, when human rights in sexual and reproductive health are sustained. The overall health budgets are reduced, productivity stimulated and standard of life improved. Dependency ratio reduces, the economy accelerates faster than expected and aids in achieving demographic dividend sustainably.
Recent research by UNFPA, has it that if countries were to remain in lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for six continues months there would be a major disruption of the health services of less developed countries. This will result in about 47 million women not having access to modern contraceptives, close to7 million unintended pregnancies would occur globally whiles gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and child marriages were expected to be high.
The pandemic is threatening to wreck several efforts made to attain zero maternal deaths, unmet need for family planning, sexual and gender based violence and other harmful practices which hinders on our progress of meeting the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda of 2030 and the national blueprint of Ghana beyond Aid agenda.
On this occasion of World Population Day, NPC is calling on all Ghanaians as matter of urgency to make it a point to protect and uphold the health and rights of women and girls especially during this COVID-19 pandemic for we are committed to ensuring that every Ghanaian enjoys a better quality life.
By: Mercy Adomaa Besseah- Ashanti Regional NPC Director