UNITED NATIONS POPULATION INFORMATION NETWORK (POPIN)
UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

94-09-07: Statement of Ghana, H.E. Flt-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings

ISO: GHA

 

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 AS WRITTEN





            MESSAGE FROM H E.  FLT.-LT. JERRY JOHN RAWLING



                  PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA,

     TO THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT





     CAIRO, EGYPT

     5 - 13 SEPTEMBER 1994





MR. PRESIDENT



I congratulate you warmly on your  election to preside over our

proceedings.  I also thank the Government  of the Arab Republic of Egypt

for its generous hospitality.



MR. PRESIDENT



I have the  honor to present to the Conference the following message

from the President of the Republic  of Ghana, H.E. FLT-Lt. Jerry John

Rawlings:



ďAn important international conference such as this provides an

opportunity to focus on the complexity  of population issues in the

world today, particularly the strong correlation between population,

resources  and the comprehensive development of the individual and the

nation.



In the case of Ghana, the high population growth rate and the consequent

youthful age structure of the  population are two critical factors which

have made the attainment of the country's development goals  and

objectives an onerous task.  Even with the recent improvement in the

economy resulting from the  implementation of the economic recovery and

structural adjustment programmes initiated by  Government in the early

1980s and which is generally acknowledged as  the most successful in

Africa it  is estimated that annual growth of the gross  domestic

product has to be around 8%, compared to the  present rate of about 5%

for per capita income to be restored to its 1960 level.



How have we respond to this challenge ?



The Government has taken a number of measures since the last

International Conference on Population  held in Mexico City in 1984.  An

recently, the fourth Republican constitution of the country has made it

obligatory for the government to maintain a population policy that

consistent with the aspirations of the  people of Ghana.



In fact, I can even say that as far back as 1975 the National Council on

Women and Development was  established to formulate policies in the area

of women and development.  And in the recent past, the  31st. December

Women's Movement, our largest women's NGO in the field in terms of both

numbers  and spatial distribution has awakened Ghanian womanhood to face

the formidable challenges of positive  self-realization.



Ladies and Gentlemen,



This is not a woman's issue, it is a societal issue.  We need our

menfolk, those in farming and fishing,  those in boardrooms, those in

policy-making fora, and certainly  those in executive positions to

change  their attitudes towards women if we are to be successful in our

quest  for a more just society.



But, Ladies and Gentlemen, men women and children do not live in a

vacuum.  They live in a social and  physical environment.  This

environment has been a major cause for concern since the basic needs of

our  people are placing increasing pressures on our resources.  We are

trying through our Environmental  Action Plan, to optimize the use of

our environment for the benefit of the benefit of the present and for

generations as yet unborn.  Another example is the action plan by our

Ghana National Commission on  Children,  - THE CHILD CANNOT WAIT - under

which we hope to give the children of Ghana a better  start in life.



I will not bore you with too many examples.  Le me focus on a few areas

of concern.



The first relates to family planning.  Ghana remains committed  to the

provision of integrated heath  services to our people, including family

planning.  This is because we believe  in the individual as a  whole,

and in investing in individuals through education and improvement in

living conditions which  would enable them to make free and informed

choices.  This, Ladies and Gentlemen,  is looking  at the  health and

welfare of people and helping them in assuming responsible behavior.



Our concern in this area is not restricted to adults alone.  Like many

other countries, developed and  developing, it includes our young people

and adolscents.  We are all witnessing the increase, worldwide,  of

births to young  adults who are less than 20 years old.  In seeing this

we have to admit that for some  young adults  advice and counseling are

not enough.  Adolescents, therefore, need education, care and  attention

and services that will provide them with the security and hope that they

are looking for.



Ladies and Gentlemen,



Up to now  I have focused on the health aspects of the population issue

and our conviction to provide  reproductive health services that are

accessible to our people.



I cannot end this aspect without mentioning  the great  controversy that

has arisen out of the issue of  abortion.  Let me say right away that in

Ghana we believe, as stated by the World Health Organization,  that

abortion and I repeat abortion, should NOT, I repeat NOT, be used as a

method of family planning.   However, there are health circumstances

that require the interruption of  pregnancy in which case it has  to be

performed under the safest and soundest scientific methods..  Having

said this, it is up to each  country within its own cultural values and

norms, to decide.



Ladies and Gentlemen,



Let me now turn to the demographic aspects of population in the context

of development.  As many  speakers have pointed out, people must not be

seen as statistics but as individuals belonging to basic  family units

and small closely-knit communities with hopes, philosophies of life and

aspiration which go  beyond the physical.



Some of these are a sense of self-worth, the urge to preserve cultural

mores, and the cumulative  knowledge and those of their family group or

nation.  These are basic and very legitimate aspirations  which lend

themselves to fervent defence by all human societies.



I would like all of us to pause and reflect, for in countries such as

ours in Africa, there has been a drive  from developed countries to push

population control programmes very vigorously, based on statistical

logic.  We do not  quarrel with the logic, but we believe that a great

deal can be learned from bitter past  experience.  Reports from our

field workers show that our people have become highly suspicious of the

birth control crusades.  Some of these suspicion emanate from the fact

that we do not worry about their  needs first and improve their

conditions.  Also they are frequently suspicious about the drugs,

methods  and technology being promoted.  They are not reassured that the

methods will not harm them.   Sometimes they feel they are guinea pigs

for new drugs, and wonder most of all whether we ourselves    use them

before prescribing them to others.



Another issue of concern that must be addressed is the growing tendency

of some  donors to condition  their aid in certain essential areas on

the adoption by a recipient country of population programmes  designed

elsewhere.  There is need for flexibility and respect for locally

tailored programmes.   Interventions based solely on the concept of

population management interfere with the very foundation of  life.



I leave you with these thoughts.



We believe that the time has come for all states to appreciate the need

to put population issues in a  broader context.  Population to us means

more than the control of numbers.  Its related issues include, for

example, the over concentration of people in specific areas.  Measures

aimed at discouraging the  formation of huge urban centers and

encouraging a fairly even spread by the wider distribution of the  means

for development and generation of wealth, become a matter of immediate

and on going concern.



Profit centered reliance on market forces to the neglect of economic and

development strategies that are  truly people centered is only a recipe

for disaster.



Population concerns must also include the challenges posed by the flow

of people within large  geographical areas such as the continent of

Africa.  Africa as a whole is certainly not populated, and yet  parts of

the continent are under tremendous and unsustainable pressure due to a

complex combination of  factors.



This calls for a dispassionate and objective re-evaluation of the

premium placed on existing national  borders, a delicate issue that

stirs deep nationalistic and patriotic emotions.   Ghana's vision of

African  unity has always de-emphasized  the limitations of unnatural

borders whilst stressing the virtues of an  organic whole.



At the same time the flow of millions of refugees from one part of the

continent to another, whether to  escape conflict, drought and other

natural disasters or simply to seek greener pastures, places a heavy

burden on the target areas.



While we concede that Africa bears the brunt of the responsibility for

solving its population problems, we  view with concern the striking

cases of discrimination practiced by some developed countries against

African Immigrations and those of African descent.



We are equally concerned about the continued consumption of a grossly

disproportionate part of the  world's resources by a small number of

wealthy economics while control of population growth is  vigorously

advocated for poorer countries.  There must be a commensurate advocacy

aimed at curbing  the insatiable appellate of wealthier economies for

more and more resources, which only widens the gap  between the rich and

the poor and at the same time sets before the poor aspirations towards

life styles  which are not globally sustainable.



The link between poverty and population growth can no longer be side-

tracked.  Poverty often breeds  over-population.  It is not a more

coincidence that the more affluent states have progressively lower

population growth while the poorer countries experience unbridled

escalation in their population growth



The need to work vigorously towards a more equitable World Order must be

seen as an essential part of  the battle for the sustainable well being

of all people on the globe.  Deterioration in the quality of human  life

cannot be confined to the poorer developing countries whilst the few

well to do insulate themselves  from the consequences.  In the view of

the Ghana Government, any discussion of population must be  situated

within the overall context of socio-economic development.



It is our hope that the final communique and resolutions of the

Conference as well as the follow-up  action will demonstrate clearly

that a historic step has been taken to re-orient policies world-wide in

the  light of real and urgent problems that can no longer be side-

stepped, so that by the end of this century the  world will witness a

substantial improvement in the quality of life of all its 6 billion

inhabitants.  This,  Ladies and Gentlemen, places the population issues

as an essential aspect of socio-economic  development.



Thank you..










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