| Updated Jul 11, 2017 at 4:00pm


Ms Erika Goldson, Deputy Representative UNFPA Accra


The Deputy Representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Accra Erika Goldson says investment in family planning is a way of raising a country’s economic earning potential in the very near future. She says when the size of the dependent population decreases as compared to those in the working age group, it creates an economic advantage.

Erika Goldson was speaking at the launch of the 2017 World Population Day in Accra on Tuesday. She said countries with lower levels of overall national earnings stand to gain so much from effective family planning systems. This will result in increased wage earners and decreased dependency. Together with the right policies economic growth is enhanced.

According to the Deputy Representative, it is important to invest in family planning since it translates into investing in the health and rights of women. The overall picture is the envisaged success towards the Sustainable Development Goals also called Agenda 2030.

Ms. Goldson made reference to the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development which shifted attention from the previous way of looking at the issue to the present stance where individuals and couples are given the right “…to decide freely and responsibly whether or when to start a family.” She added that this is what UNFPA has supported over the period with a call to leave no one behind.

Explaining the issue further, Ms. Goldson said providing access to voluntary family planning is an important means of ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment. Unfortunately an estimated 214 million women around the globe do not have access to safe and effective family planning methods. Ghana has got its fair share of this number. However, when these needs are met about 60 million unintended pregnancies would be avoided and this will reduce maternal deaths by about a third of the 303,000 recorded in 2016. Reducing unintended pregnancies reduces health risks of child birth and recourse to unsafe abortion.

In addition to health benefits, Ms. Goldson outlined other things that women, girls and society as a whole stand to gain from effective family planning. She said women and girls get “more opportunities to become wage earners, thereby boosting family income levels.” They also achieve “higher levels of education and experience a lower incidence of intimate partner violence.” Whilst unplanned families promote a poverty cycle, investment in family planning according to Ms. Goldson reinforce a cycle of empowerment, supporting healthy, educated and economically productive women and families.

In terms of cost, Ms. Goldson revealed that “spending four Ghana Cedis (just over one dollar) for contraceptive services reduces the cost of pregnancy-related care, including care for women living with HIV, by six Cedis 70 pesewas or two dollars and thirty cents.”

World population Day is marked on the 11th of July every year to draw attention to issues that affect our population, its development and reproductive health issues. The global theme for this year is FAMILY PLANNING: EMPOWERING PEOPLE, DEVELOPING NATIONS. The local theme for the celebration is FAMILY PLANNING: HEALTHY PEOPLE FOR SUSTAINABLE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT. The day was established in 1989 by the then governing council of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) after the population of the world hit five billion on 11 July 1989. It was first marked on the same date in 1990 in over 90 countries. Since then, countries around the world and organisations that work on the well-being of the population have marked the day highlighting varied issues that affect people across the globe.

Story: Kingsley Obeng-Kyereh