The pandemic has caused lots of disruptions in all spheres, especially the health system. This has exposed serious gaps and challenges in the provision of sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls. The situation has worsened gender inequality, gender-based violence, and harmful practices including child marriage, which calls for urgent attention.
In commemoration of World Population Day 2021 in Ghana, I joined the National Population Council in a celebration under the theme, “Prioritising Reproductive Health as an Answer to Rights and Choices”.
In 2020, Ghana recorded 109,888 total of teen pregnancies with nearly 301 girls being impregnated everyday and 13 recorded every one hour. This was as a result of many factors including lack of access to education and reproductive health services, sexual violence and coercion, gender inequality, child marriage, national policies restricting access to contraception, and poverty.
Despite increasing calls to integrate and prioritise sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services in universal health coverage (UHC) processes, several SRH services have remained a low priority. UNFPA estimates the pandemic disrupted contraceptive use for about 12 million women with a consequence of nearly 1.4 million unintended pregnancies during 2020 across 115 low- and middle-income countries.
The health and development of adolescents and young people are crucial for the development of the country. Adolescent girls need accurate information on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). This can be provided through comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and outreach campaigns delivered in and beyond schools, including through safe spaces and girls’ clubs. Girls should also be referred to service delivery points where they can access the health care they need