The Brong-Ahafo Regional Assistant Population Officer, Mr Yussif Iddrisu, has said that forty percent of the population in the region is under age 15, and this large group is dependent on working-age people and the government to meet basic health, education, and consumption needs.
The young age structure, he said creates built-in momentum for future population growth, which poses a challenge for the region’s development.
Mr. Iddrisu was interacting with Space FM’s Morning Flight 877 host, Dickson Smith on World Population Day on July 11.
The 2017 World Population Day is on the theme, ‘Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations’
According to the population officer, low contraceptive use leads to a high fertility rate and exposes women to unintended pregnancies.
He noted that each unintended pregnancy that a woman experiences poses risks to her health and that of the child she carries.
Mr. Iddrisu observed the region’s infant mortality rate is among the lowest in Ghana, but is still relatively high, adding that region’s child mortality rate, while relatively low in Ghana, can still be improved.
The regional population said, population dynamics, especially fertility and age structure, impact every aspect of development.
He stressed that by enhancing contraceptive use, smaller family sizes prevent maternal and infant death and disability.
“Smaller family sizes allow more children to be educated, while making it easier to absorb more young workers into the labour force”, he said. “Rapid fertility decline is key for improving living standards and promoting economic growth” he said.
Analyzing the fertility scenarios, Mr. Iddrisu said the two scenarios would be the high fertility scenario where TFR remains constant at 4.0 from 2010 throughout the projection to 2040 and the low fertility scenario where TFR decreases to 2.1 by year 2040.
He said under the High-Fertility scenario, maintaining the current ratio of doctors to population will be much more resource- and personnel-intensive.
The more gradual increase in the number of doctors in the Low-Fertility scenario improves the prospects for high-quality healthcare for the region’s future population.
“Under the High-Fertility scenario, maintaining the current ratio of nurses to population will be much more resource-and personnel-intensive. “The more gradual increase in the number of nurses in the Low-Fertility scenario improves the prospects for high-quality healthcare for region’s future population”, he explained.
Health centers required
According to the population Officer, under the High-Fertility scenario, more health centres must be built to maintain current coverage.
He pointed out that diverting funds for the construction of many additional facilities will detract from efforts to improve the quality of healthcare and other critical reforms in the Brong-Ahafo region.
He said the Brong-Ahafo region will incur an additional GHc 39.27 million in health expenditure by 2040 under the High-Fertility scenario.
These funds will take away from other key state investments such as improvements in health and education.
Mr. Iddrisu said population growth will in part define how much arable land is available per person, affecting food security and agricultural productivity.
He said in the Low-Fertility scenario, more land, about 62 hectres is available per person over time, while in the High-Fertility scenario, consumption of maize will be almost 804,000 metric tons greater than in the Low-Fertility scenario by 2040.
Mr. Iddrisu noted that to achieve and sustain economic stability while placing the economy on a path of higher growth in order to attain a per capita income of at least US$3,000 by 2020 while also achieving the MDGs, many more new jobs must be created each year to support the large numbers of young people entering the labour force with the higher fertility and rapid population growth.
Change we seek
The regional population officer said by prioritising investments in family planning, thereby increasing access to and use of modern contraception, the Brong-Ahafo region can improve current and future education and health outcomes, and promote food security and economic growth.
According to Mr. Iddrisu, family planning will help bring a better quality of life to the people of the region
He therefore urged authorities to develop and implement a region-specific family planning/reproductive health and population policy
“We must create and fully fund a regional-level family planning/reproductive health commodity budget line, strengthen region-sponsored family planning commodities and services, particularly for the most vulnerable”, Mr. Iddrisu said.
He added that there is also the need to reach citizens with family planning messages and education to promote strong reproductive health outcomes.