The Third China-Africa Conference on Population and Development has opened in Accra to enhance knowledge and information exchange between the two countries, while promoting and strengthening cooperation on population and development under the ambit of the South-South Cooperation.
It is on the theme: “25 Years of ICPD: Population Data Management and Universal Access to Reproductive Health as Key Drivers of Sustainable Development”.
The two-day Conference is being hosted by the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Planning, in collaboration with the National Population Council, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the China Population and Development Research Centre, with delegates from 28 African countries attending.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), delivering the Keynote address on behalf of the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, said the population of every country is both the object and architect of its development.
Thus, the use of data to make evidence-based decisions for sustainable development was critical, especially in low and middle-income countries, with several competing demands on the limited available resources, and also with targets for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), amidst challenging demographic realities, such as the rapidly growing and youthful populations.
He said the availability and use of timely and reliable population data is indispensable for planning, monitoring and evaluation of programmes, and for measuring progress towards the achievement of the SDGs.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said although significant progress had been made since the 1980’s, in the production of demographic data in many countries, as a result of censuses and surveys, there are still gaps.
He said in many African countries, demographic and health surveys had generated reliable information on issues such as fertility, family planning, infant and maternal mortality, maternal and child health and nutrition, citing Ghana’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, the Maternal Health Survey, the Ghana Living Standard Survey and the Ghana Labour Force Survey, as part of efforts to provide reliable data for planning and decision-making.
He, however, urged participants to come up with innovative ways to improve data production systems, particularly through civil registration systems, and the use of administrative data.
He acknowledged the UNFPA’s, collaborative contributions with governments world-wide, which was guided by the tenets of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD-PoA), saying that, this has yielded progress in global poverty reduction, declines in child and maternal mortality, increased life expectancy, improved access to education and advances in gender equality.
He pledged the commitment of the Government of Ghana to the ICPD-PoA, and to the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development both of which were reflected in Ghana’s Medium-Term National Development Policy Framework.
Professor George Gyan-Baffour, the Minister of Planning, said underscoring quality provision of universal access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH), was the non-availability of reliable, timely and accurate data.
He said it was in this vein that the discussions at the conference would outline best practices, presenting research findings that would provide direction to reach the targets within the stipulated time frame of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Prof. Gyan-Baffour urged the participants to also discuss ways of mobilizing resources domestically and within the context of South-South Cooperation, to be able to implement best practices and critical programmes in their respective countries.
Mr Shi Ting Wang, the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, said his government attached much importance to issues of population, hence its institution of various health interventions, targeted at maternal and child health as well as family planning, infrastructure development and education to support both Ghana and other African countries.
Dr Natalia Kamen, the UN Under Secretary General and UNFPA Executive Director, said sustainable development could be achieved if all enjoyed equal dignity and human rights, and called for strengthened collaboration to transform lives, especially women and girls globally.