Public Agenda (Accra)

Ghana: Contraceptives Use in Upper East Is Low, Says Population Expert

A study conducted in the Upper East Region has shown that contraceptives use among women of child bearing age is low despite wide knowledge of various types and benefits of contraceptives.

A population expert and research scientist, Dr Ayaga Bawah of Columbia University in the United States, brain behind the study, disclosed this at a conference of researchers and journalists held at the Navrongo Health Research Center.

Throwing more light on the research findings, Dr Bawah revealed that out of 5,511 women interviewed in seven rural districts only 13 per cent of them were using modern contraceptives.

Interestingly, about 19 % of those who reported not using contraceptives at the time of the survey wished they did not have children anymore whilst 36% of the non users indicated that they wanted to space the birth of their children.

Dr Bawah found it paradoxical that knowledge of the benefits and types of contraceptives among the population did not translate to wide acceptance rate and use of modern methods of contraceptives.

The study forms part of a baseline survey of a Columbia University collaborated Health programme known as Ghana Essential Health Intervention Programme (GEHIP), which is being piloted in three districts in the region. The programme supports the scale up of the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) programme meant to increase access to integrated primary services.

It also seeks to give new dimension to local budgeting and resource application using burden of disease data with an evidence need-based planning tool called the District Health Planning and Reporting Toolkit (DiHPART). Other interventions introduced by GEHIP included simplified health information management tools, as well as leadership development and capacity building initiatives.

Dr Bawah further observed that although Ghana was the first country in Sub- Saharan Africa to adopt family planning, fertility rate was still relatively high with most women using modern contraceptives being guided by intentions to space but not to limit child bearing.

He was emphatic that the results of his study implied a potentially high latent demand which if mobilised could increase contraceptive use rate in the Upper East. The outcome of the survey also suggests that the promotion of family planning should address the need for convenience, safe and effective methods of spacing child birth.

The conference of researchers and journalists was an initiative of the GEHIP in collaboration with the Navrongo Health Research Center, University of Ghana School of Public Health and Columbia University.

The conference was organised to offer Ghanaian Journalists and Researchers the opportunity to discuss important public health issues in Ghana and how to get the information to a wider audience in order raise awareness and drive policy change and action at the community through national levels.

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