Reproductive and sexual rights are intrinsically linked with and indivisible from other human rights and are accepted internationally as a precondition for sustainable development. Participation in the reproductive and sexual decision making process enables women to participate actively in and enjoy developmental rights related to education and productive labor. ( Femanant 2008). Yet decision making in general and in sexual and reproductive health in particular have largely been gendered within power relations with men plaing influential roles in decision making (Darteh 2014). In Ghana reproductive health issues present a big problem when factoring in things such as contraceptive use, STI’s, unsafe abortion acts, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and maternal health, so I will be providing information on a few of these issues.
Many Ghanaian women, particularly those who are young or poor, continue to obtain unsafe, illegal abortions, despite Ghana’s relatively moderate abortion law ( Ramashwar 2013). In Ghana, the evidence shows that 30% of maternal deaths are a consequence of unsafe illegal abortion acts (Ghana 2004). Nearly one in three Ghanaians are between the ages of 10 and 24. One in every 10 births occur among young adolescent mothers. Many of these young people are at risk or already struggling with the consequences of unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. ( Ghana 2004). Because the majority of adolescents are sexually experienced by the age of 20, most young Ghanaians are at risk of infection. Women particularly young women are at greater risk of HIV/AIDS and are infected at a younger age than men. Between 1986 and 2001, women accounted for over 60% of the cumulative AIDS cases in Ghana. (Ghana 2004). The vast majority who have had sex know where to obtain a condom. However, only 12% of all married and unmarried sexually active women and 27% of all sexually men are reported to use a condom (Ghana 2014). That is drastically low for a country who has a high ratio of people that not only carry HIV/AIDS, but sexually transmitted infections. It is also a problem because of the lack of medical resources and attention that are presented in Ghana. In urban Ghana, modern contraceptive use is low and a significant proportion of women experience ill reproductive health ( Adanu 2009). According to Unicef as of 2012 there are reportedly 240 thousand people living with HIV/AIDS and about half of those a about 120 thousand women living with this disastrous disease.
From a cultural standpoint overall reproductive health is an important issue in relation to Ghana because it is a merely traditional country that thrives upon rituals starting from birth until death. In one specific ritual important to women of the tribe is when they get their first period “Bragoro”, in this process they teach the one about reproductive health in all aspects from sex, to bearing child, and motherhood, etc. So it raises a question as to why these statistics are yet so high, even though they are given the proper knowledge.
From a public health standpoint I think that it is important to acknowledge that they do not have overall the proper resources, and medical knowledge to bring to the awareness to not only women but men as well how important reproductive health issues such as contraceptives, and contracting sexually transmitted infections, illegal abortions are and letting women make their own decisions on their reproductive health. It is crucial to find ways to bring these high rates of minimum use of contraceptives, HIV/AIDS down for the well being of the counrty
Adanu RM, Hill AG, Seffah JD, Darko R, Anarfi JK, Duda RB. Sexually transmitted infections and health seeking behaviour among Ghanaian women in Accra. Afr J Reprod Health. 2008;12(3):151–158
“Ghana.” Femnet News Jan.-Apr. 2008: SSS41+. General OneFile. Web. 31 July 2015. (Femanant 2008)
Darteh, Eugene Kofuor Maafo, David Teye Doku, and Kobina Esia-Donkoh. “Reproductive health decision making among Ghanaian women.” Reproductive Health 11 (2014): 23. Academic OneFile. Web. 31 July 2015.