Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, Executive Director of the National Population Council, has urged the media to step up its education on sexual reproductive issues.
Citing the 2021 Population and Housing Census, she said Ghana has a youthful population with 73.4 % below the age of 35 years. Despite this, Dr Appiah said the statistics on teenage pregnancies, maternal mortalities and morbidities and HIV would derail the efforts in translating the youthful population into the desired human capital to promote sustainable development.
Dr Appiah, who was speaking at a media engagement on reproductive health education policy review meeting in Accra on Wednesday, disclosed that Ghana records over 100,000 teen pregnancies annually contributing significantly to maternal and child mortality and morbidities. Apart from this, there is a high prevalence of HIV among young people 15-24 years.
This data, she indicated, has serious implications for the country’s health systems, education, employment, social lives, national security and sustainable development.
She, therefore, called for a concerted effort “through honest and transparent dialogue to keep the trusted producers of content and media personnel on the same page in terms of RHE to enable us to empower our youth to choose wisely.”
Dr Appiah also called for continued dialogue “till we arrive at a consensus where each stakeholder plays its part to achieve our common goal of the healthy population from childhood through adulthood for sustainable development.”
“We are all not in doubt that building resilient individuals and nations include evidence-based information sharing, education and service provision which are age appropriate and culturally sensitive in all sectors including reproductive health of citizens. Effective communication is arguably one of the most crucial elements to improve all facets of life.
Communication to understand and be understood strengthens individual and shared resilience. For example, comprehensive knowledge about AIDS for the prevention of HIV is low among adolescent girls and boys. Only 18.1% of girls and 24.5% of boys had comprehensive knowledge about AIDS prevention. Ignorance, misinformation, disinformation and lack of services are thus our common worst enemies which we must confront individually and as a community if we are to move from opportunity to performance and results,” she added.
Dr Appiah noted the plural media environment in Ghana has seen the number of households with radio and television sets increasing (70.1% own radios and 68.9%, televisions) and therefore, urged the media to increase its advocacy on reproductive health education to bridge the inequality gap, strengthen individual and shared resilience.
Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication, Prof Kwame Karikari, while advising the media to specialize in population issues, urged NPC to develop media packages such as jingles, press statements and releases, short documentaries, drama kits and highlights reproductive health issues, adding that the NPC should also develop a cogent media communication strategy and work with it.
Emmanuel Ashong, ISD