In order to reduce the high incidence of teenage pregnancies in the Volta Region, the Executive Director of the National Population Council (NPC), Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, has recommended intensive family planning in the region with special attention on the reproductive health needs of adolescents.
She explained that during the time of the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) of 2014, about 4.1 per cent of teenagers in the region were pregnant with their first child and 18 per cent of teenagers had already had a live birth.
This situation, apart from contributing to high fertility in the region, could lead to several reproductive health complications among adolescents and their children.
It is against this worrying trend that the Volta Regional Capital, Ho, hosted this year’s World Population Day on Wednesday, to sensitise the people on the negative effect of teenage pregnancy among other reproductive health issues.
Dr Appiah, who shed light on the need to create awareness on global population trends and their implications for development to coincide with the World Population Day, said the provision of family planning services and care should be linked to human rights standards with no discrimination whatsoever in care provision, including age and marital status.
The global theme for this year’s celebration was: “Family Planning is a Human Right,” while the national theme was “Family Planning is a Human Right: An Imperative to Sustainable Economic Development.”
According to Dr Appiah, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR), that is the number of children who would be born to a woman at the end of her childbearing years is 4.3 per cent in the Volta Region compared with the national rate of 4.2 in 2014. Also, the region’s contraceptive prevalence is 29.5 per cent which is 7.3 per cent above the national figure of 22.2 per cent.
“Child marriage in the Volta Region was recorded at 7.8 per cent and it is second to the Western Region which is 8.3 per cent. Teenage pregnancy is also high in the region.
Family planning and rights
Dr Appiah indicated that family planning empowered women, boosted the financial position of the family and enhanced socio-economic growth.
She added that it encompassed the services, policies, information, attitudes, practices and commodities, including contraceptives that gave women, men, couples and adolescents the ability to avoid unintended pregnancy and choose when to have a child.
Reproductive health implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.
“Implicit in this are the right of men and women to be informed of and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of fertility regulation of their choice, and the right of access to appropriate healthcare services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant,” she emphasized.
“The financial status of Ghana depends on the financial situation of families and households, which is heavily influenced by family planning. This is because cost of living is affected by family size.
“A large family spends more on health, nutrition, education, housing, energy and food than a small one. Parents can better meet the needs of their families if convinced to have fewer children,” Dr Appiah explained.
She said in spite of the economic growth and gains made, Ghana’s population continued to grow and was expected to double in size between 2010 and 2040 at the current growth rate. Efforts at reducing population growth were, therefore, key to ensuring sustainable national development.
“Some of the consequences of high population growth in Ghana include rapid urbanisation as a result of migration, high unemployment, poverty and low status of women. Family planning remains the most effective strategy to down the rate of population growth,” she pointed out.
Population of the Volta Region
According to the NPC, the population of the Volta Region increased rapidly between 1960 and 2010 from 777,288 to 2,118,252, almost three times in 50 years.
Between the 2000 and 2010, the region’s population increased by 29.5 per cent, and at an intercensal annual growth rate of 2.5 per cent, the regional population is estimated to be 2,587,239 in 2018.
The percentage of adolescents in the entire population in 2010 was 10.5 for both sexes and disaggregated into 11.3 per cent males and 9.7 female which is estimated in reference to the 2010 figure to increase by 22.1 per cent in 2018 which is also disaggregated into 32.6 per cent for both sexes, 23.4 per cent for males and 31.8 per cent females by 2018.
Young people constituted 30.8 per cent in 2010 of which 32.3 were males and 29.2 were females.