In a major win for women’s reproductive rights, Ghana’s National Health Insurance Program has expanded to include free long-term contraception from 1 January 2022. The move will allow millions of women of reproductive age who are already covered by national health insurance to avoid paying out of pocket for family planning methods such as the implant, coil and injections. It comes after a two-year pilot study found that including family planning services in health benefits packages resulted in a greater uptake of long-term contraception and future government savings in direct care costs.
“We are excited that at long last, long-term family planning methods are included in the National Health Insurance Scheme,” said Abena Adubea Amoah, the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood of Ghana (PPAG), an IPPF Member Association. “This means long time peace of mind for women, girls and their families with potential positive impact on their health and economic life.”
Tackling deep-rooted barriers to healthcare
In late 2021, the government of Ghana launched a year-long campaign aimed at raising awareness of and preventing maternal deaths in line with Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The role of family planning in reducing preventable maternal death is well documented, with unsafe abortion being one of the leading causes. Yet, Ghana is a country where deep-rooted cultural norms and structural barriers perpetuate poor sexual and reproductive health, including high risks of maternal mortality, high numbers of sexually transmitted infections and low levels of contraceptive use. Despite making important progress in recent years, Ghana’s maternal mortality ratio is 308 per 100,000 live births, which is still well above the SDG target of less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.
PPAG will play an important role in supporting the government in its campaign to prevent maternal deaths and disabilities. Since 1967, PPAG has provided the people of Ghana with family planning services as well as maternal and child health care, infertility management, and voluntary counselling and testing for sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS. With over 100 staff members, a team of 1,000 volunteers, and 300 peer educators, PPAG is well-positioned to deliver health services and programmes through permanent and mobile clinics in urban and rural communities across the country. The association's Youth Action Team, comprised of over 810 young people, leads a number of educational and awareness-raising activities at 1000 community-based service points across the country.