Christabel Addo/Priscilla Nkrumah, GNA
Accra, Oct. 4, GNA - Ministers of State and experts from 21 African Union (AU) member countries have converged in Accra to review progress on the implementation of the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development (AADPD), five years after its adoption.
The two-day meeting, which is also the second for the Specialised Technical Committee on Health, Population and Drug Control (STC-HPDC-2), ends the series of discussions held on the Continent to review the Africa Regional AADPD Report, which was adopted by the Ministers and endorsed by the AU Summit in January, 2014.
There was a clarion call by all the key speakers during the opening session on Thursday on the need for Africa to have a unified voice on issues of population and development.
They further identified as key the enhanced investment in the education, skills development and reproductive health rights of the youth.
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the Vice President, whose speech was read by Dr Anthony Akoto-Osei, the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, said there had been a paradigm shift in the global dialogue from population numbers and control, to population and development.
Large populations now presented positive growth in areas such as increased markets, enhanced scope for specialisation, and expansion of human capital to overcome the constraints posed by diminishing returns, he said.
He noted that Ghana’s population increase from 6.05 million in 1957, to the current 29.6 million, with young people constituting a greater part, presented the type of resource that could be turned into an asset or become a liability depending on how it was handled.
The Vice President, however, noted that the challenge for many countries in Africa had been how to make the transitions from population management as a control issue, to its management as an investment in human wealth.
He said education was key to achieving a knowledge-based society and called for the right investment in knowledge and health as well as inclusive growth, targeted at the youth to achieve the required development.
Dr Bawumia said it was also crucial to review legislation, standards, and practice that restricted the full participation of the youth in access to sexual and reproductive health services.
The AADPD, he said, therefore provided Africa with a key framework for addressing population and development issues, and also reflected the commitment and relevance of the tenets of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action to the development of the Continent and progress of its people.
The AADPD also mirrored AU member states commitment on a range of issues that were critical to the achievement of both Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he said.
Dr Bawumia recounted Ghana’s efforts in creating opportunities and a supportive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship, citing the medium-term vision titled: “Agenda for Jobs-Creating Prosperity and Opportunity for All (2017-2024)”.
That, he said, was an effective programme to ensure that every child had access to secondary education, skill development opportunities, knowledge and ability to engage in decent employment.
He said the Free Senior High School programme, which was launched in 2017, had provided unrestricted secondary education, and placed about 270,000 children who, otherwise, would have been “drop outs”.
He called for sustained efforts to ensure respect for human rights and dignity among the people of Africa and the need to overcome concerns about inequalities, gender disparities and improve the situation of children and the aged.
The Vice President called for the need to work towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and addressing the challenges of double burden of diseases, maternal and infant mortality, internal migration, poverty, rapid urbanisation and irregular international migration.
He said Ghana’s Population Policy, which was reviewed in 1994, had been subjected to another review and had already received Cabinet approval, taking into consideration the current and pressing issues that would be discussed at the meeting.
Ms Abena Osei Asare, the Deputy Minister of Finance, called for strengthened partnerships, especially with the private sector, to develop workable strategies for the allocation of technical, human and financial resources to enable Africa to undertake those activities.
“We have a young a population in Africa, which is rapidly growing, by 2055, the Continent’s youth population (aged 15-20), is expected to have more than double the 2015 total of 226 million. Surely we have a duty to these young people,” she said.
She urged the participants to reflect on the priorities of the Continent and work towards reducing her dependence on foreign aid.