Implement all-inclusive sexuality education in schools - Ipas
Mr Selorme Kofi Azumah, a Senior Adviser at Ipas Ghana, a health access rights non-governmental organisation, has advocated an effective collaboration between the Ministries of Health and Education to implement all-inclusive sexuality education in schools.
He said the practice where sex education at schools was limited to abstinence was not helping students to take adequate care of their sexual life.
He said time had come for the two ministries to come together to address challenges pertaining to reproductive health care among students by providing all relevant information for them.
“Limiting sex education to abstinence, is rather allowing several innocent students to become victims of negative sexual practices, the consequences of which is disastrous to our human resource base”, he explained.
Mr Azumah made the call at the “dissemination forum of final results on an assessment of people’s knowledge and attitude about women’s access to reproductive health services, especially “comprehensive abort care” conducted in the Sissala East and Nadowli Districts.
He said there was no scientific proof that when students got to know more about their reproductive health care, they would become promiscuous.
According to the Ipas Advisor, that would rather help the students to take appropriate decisions to take good care of their sexual life and practise safe methods.
Mr. Theophilus Owusu-Ansah, Deputy Director in charge of Clinical Care at the Upper West Regional Health Directorate said there was high religious perception on sexuality in the Upper West Region which made it difficult for health workers to make any meaningful breakthrough for women having access to reproductive health service, especially comprehensive abortion care.
He said health workers were however making some gains despite the challenge, admitting that it was not easy for Muslim women to go for reproductive health care services.
He also admitted that cost of drugs for reproductive health services were high and discouraging women from accessing family planning services and which compelled them to look for alternative means of preventing childbirth.
He suggested a uniform and clear cost standard for family planning services at health facilities and other service providers such as chemical sellers to encourage women to patronise reproductive health services.
“We should not allow or create a situation which would discourage women from patronising reproductive health service because of the cost of drugs and other services.
“Health facilities should stock reproductive health service drugs and make them available to clients and stop prescribing drugs to them to buy from chemical sellers”.
Dr Joseph Cruickshank Mills, Health Systems Advisor at Ipas, said the research was conducted to increase knowledge of community members on availability of Comprehensive Abortion Care services of sources of care.
“It was also to help reduce abortion stigma among community members, increase women’s access to safe abortion services and increase in exposure to sexual reproductive health information among women in the two districts.”
He said knowledge about legality of abortion was very unclear in both districts.
He said there was general increase in access to family planning, but in terms of method mix, women in Sissala East recorded significant higher increase in modern short and long term methods than those in Nadowli.
Dr Mills said women in Sissala East improved on the use of more effective methods than their colleagues in Nadowli, where more women seem to be practising periodic abstinence.
He said there was an increase in access to abortion in both districts, but it was more pronounced in Sissala East than in Nadowli District, recording 27 per cent as against 20 per cent respectively.
Ipas suggested the inclusion of topics of about legality, accessibility of safe abortion, safe versus unsafe methods, abortion stigma, increase education and availability of long acting and permanent methods of family planning to help reduce maternal and child deaths.