The National Population Council has advocated strong collaboration among key stakeholders as key to attaining national transformation and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the era of the coronavirus pandemic.
This was contained in a statement signed and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga by Mr Alosibah Akare Azam, the Upper East Regional Population Officer, as part of activities marking this year’s World Population Day.
The Day is being celebrated in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the theme, “Putting the brakes on COVID-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now”.
The Regional Population Officer said the country, particularly the Upper East Region had made significant gains with regards to reducing maternal deaths and increasing patronage for family planning but the emergence of the pandemic posed a major threat to the efforts made so far.
“In the Upper East Region, according to data provided by the Regional Health Directorate, maternal deaths have been reducing since 2017. The region recorded 46 maternal deaths in 2017, 32 in 2018, 30 in 2019, and six in the first quarter of 2020.
“Family planning acceptor rate, on the other hand, has been increasing slightly during the same period: 29.6 in 2017, 29.7 in 2018, 30.6 in 2019 and 37.4 in the first quarter of 2020,” he said.
Mr Azam said while healthcare systems were fighting to cope amid the virus, sexual and reproductive health services were being given little attention, and gender-based violence heightened in some communities especially during the lockdown period.
The Population Officer further expressed concern about issues such as deep-rooted cultural beliefs and harmful practices, low male involvement in family planning and poor community involvement in adolescent sexual and reproductive health that were threats to the achievement of the SDGs and called for synergies among stakeholders to review policies and programmes to address the challenges.
“Policymakers, stakeholders, especially community, traditional and religious leaders, women and youth groups and the media and indeed all hands must be on deck to ensure that the transformative goals of zero maternal death, zero unmet need for family planning and zero sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices are achieved in Upper East Region and Ghana by 2030, the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” he stressed.