The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana has said even though the country has made progress in the use of contraceptives since 1988, the rate of growth is slow, at less than one per cent a year.
It said among married women, the use of modern contraceptives had increased from 5.2 per cent in 1988 to 25 per cent in 2017.
For married adolescents (15 to 19 year) and young people aged between 20 and 24 years, modern contraceptive prevalence rate was 23.8 and 27.3 per cent, respectively, it said.
However, the growth rate, which refers to new users coming on board, is growing at a low level of one per cent every year.
The acting Country Representative of the UNFPA Ghana, Barnabas Yisa, who disclosed this in an interview, said the low rate was compounded, among others, by myths and misconceptions, low quality of services (method information index of 47 per cent) and low healthcare provider coverage.
The interview coincided with World Contraception Day, which is being observed globally today.
World Contraception Day
Launched in 2007, World Contraception Day is commemorated every year on September 26 to improve awareness of contraception and enable women and young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.
It further seeks to improve awareness of all contraceptive methods available and enable women and girls, as well as men, make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.
Further, the day is an opportunity for governments around the world to discuss important sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, in particular unintended pregnancy.
Myths and misconceptions
“Breaking Myths and Misconceptions on Family Planning” is the theme for this year’s commemoration.
Mr Yisa said the main challenges and barriers to the use of contraceptives globally were myths and misconceptions, explaining that they largely contributed to the non-use and discontinued usage of modern contraceptives.
He mentioned some of the myths and misconceptions as exaggerated reports about side effects of using contraceptives, including early menopause, inability to conceive, heart attack and misconceptions about short and long-term health problems and negative stereotypes about people who practised family planning.
“According to the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS), some of the most common reasons among women for discontinuing a method was fear of experiencing side effects or having health concerns (22 per cent) and becoming pregnant while using the method (20 per cent).
“These misconceptions are often spread by informal social networks. Addressing these myths and misconceptions by providing evidence-based knowledge can increase contraception uptake, ultimately giving women control over their reproductive health,” he said.
Implications for low contraceptive use
The acting UNFPA Country Representative mentioned the implications for the country recording relatively low contraceptive use to include the fact that it might impede its quest to achieve its target for contraception use by 2030, explaining that, according to the national population policy, the use of contraception among currently married women was expected to reach 35 per cent in 2024 and 50 per cent in 2034.
He added that low contraceptive use rate had implications for the socio-economic development of the country and the enhancement of sexual reproductive health among young people, pointing out that low contraceptive rate would speed up the growth rate of the population, which was currently at 30.8 million, increase youth unemployment, put pressure on existing facilities, such as education and health, and exacerbate poverty among people, especially women and girls.
Benefits of contraceptives
Mr Yisa mentioned the benefits of contraceptives to include reducing unsafe abortions from unintended pregnancies, reducing infant deaths, prevention of HIV/AIDS, empowering people and enhancing education, reducing teenage pregnancies and climate change and environmental sustainability.
“The UNFPA joins the world and stakeholders in Ghana to commemorate World Contraception Day. Let us continue to strengthen efforts to improve family planning uptake, reap the gains and improve the lives of women, reduce teenage pregnancies and reduce poverty,” he said.