These are unprecedented times that have historically changed our daily lives all in the name of COVID-19. The fight against this pandemic has become a challenge to testing the healthcare system of nations worldwide. Although, the virus is deadly, taking preventive measures such as frequently washing hands with soap under clean running water, using hand sanitizers with over 60% alcohol content, wearing nose and mouth guards and practicing social distancing of two meters can make huge impact in our efforts at reducing the spread.
Educating the general population as a mitigation measure is one of the surest ways to reduce and prevent the spread of the virus. Education on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) is a major issue that deserves priority attention at this critical moment. It is anticipated that a lot of maternal and pregnancy related cases may rise during this pandemic and partial lockdown periods. This could have serious consequences on the sexual and reproductive health needs of women particularly as men play dominant role on matters of fertility.
The National Population Council (NPC) is the Institution which ensures that population management does not assume certain dimensions which could have the potency of reversing all social and economic gains made. We are therefore making a passionate appeal to couples and sexually active persons to ensure the use of contraceptives. This will avert high incidence of unplanned pregnancy or birth, abortion and other sexually transmitted infections. NPC asserts that accessible, affordable and available contraceptive mix combined with other sexual reproductive health and rights mechanisms are fundamental to women’s health, empowerment and sustained development.
Unplanned pregnancies or births could also have serious consequences on the life of mother and child and according to the Ghana Maternal Health Survey report (2017), the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) stands at 310 deaths per 100,000 live births. Maternal mortality includes deaths of women during pregnancy or delivery after 42 days. Technically, maternal mortality excludes deaths resulting from accidents or violence.
Finally, safe pregnancy and childbirth to a large extent depends on the adequacy of skilled healthcare personnel including Medical Officers, Midwives and other supporting staff. Taking firm decisions with our partners on sexual and reproductive health during this pandemic will be our contribution of reducing the burden on health care professionals and the nation as a whole. We are committed to the vision of ensuring that every Ghanaian enjoys an improved and sustained quality of life.
Mercy Adomaa Besseah
National Population Council- Ashanti Region