Dakar, Dec. 1, GNA - Ghanaian religious leaders have been urged not to view accessing safe abortion care and family planning services as forbidden, but rather preach abstinence to avert people having unwanted pregnancies.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at the 2nd International Conference on Family Fanning here in Dakar on Wednesday, Dr Ali Samba a Gynaecologist and Obstetrician of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, said seeking services of safe abortion care and family planning were just like seeking services and treatment for malaria treatment and people seeking such services should not be treated with contempt.
Over 2,200 researchers, program managers, clinicians, parliamentarians, policy makers and jurists are attending the conference to share research, best practices, and progress on national strategies to deliver family planning services, with the ultimate goal being universal access to family planning.
Participants are also for the three days examining cutting edge research and programs that are helping to advance the health and wealth of families and nations worldwide.
The Bill and Melinda Gates, Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Government of Senegal's Ministry of Health and Prevention, along with international including UNFPA, World Bank, World Health Organisation and USAID are co-hosting the Conference on “Family Planning: Research and Best Practices”.
Dr Samba noted that the health, security and well-being of families depended importantly on the health of women and when women and men had the ability to voluntarily space and limit the number of children they have, maternal and newborn deaths would reduce as well as abortions and abortion related deaths.
He said the ability of women to control their own fertility was fundamental to women's empowerment and equality and fertility management was crucial and important step to ensure their full empowerment and gender equality.
He explained that though awareness on contraception use had been over 90 per cent, there was the challenge of commodity supply and cited Jadel as one of the popular commodities that frequently run out of stock.
“The facilities are available and are friendly; couples, women and adolescences who need the services should freely walk into any health facilities for quality services”, he added.
Dr Samba called on government to ensure that there were enough stocks to service clients who needed them, adding increased contraceptives use would have a wide range of benefits, including poverty reduction, health benefits, education and gender. We have to ensure that family planning provision and its promotion become an integral part of our development efforts”.
Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, Director in charge of Maternal and Child Health of the Ghana Health Service, said abortion was not legal in Ghana, but permitted under specific conditions making it liberal.
She reiterated the fact that family planning could reduce poverty and contribute to the economic development of families and communities and called for the need to ensure that the huge unmet needs for family planning were addressed.
Other Ghanaian participants, who spoke to the GNA expressed the concern that though Ghana was among few countries that started with comprehensive abortion care and contraception care with many African countries coming to learn from Ghana, the country was now lagging behind.
They called for visionary leaders, who would exhibit serious commitment, leadership and ensure the completion of any programme they embarked upon.
From Linda Asante Agyei, GNA Special Correspondent, Dakar. Courtesy UNFPA, Sub Regional Office, Senegal