As part of National Family Planning Week, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) on Wednesday announced support for family planning measures that would benefit almost 690,000 Ghanaians over the next year.

This support combined with other UKaid support from DFID, will help Ghana achieve greater progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This seeks to reduce the number of women who die in childbirth, and achieve universal access to reproductive health services. These were announced in a statement issued by the DFID copied to Ghana News Agency in Accra. Currently, about 1 in 300 live births in Ghana result in the death of the mother; this compares with just 1 in 8000 in the UK.

In October this year, Ghana Health Service (GHS) will receive the firs= t part of a delivery of 2.5 million doses of injectable contraceptives and 66,350 doses of implant contraceptives provided by UKaid - it is estimated this will avert 178,000 unintended pregnancies. In total, UKaid will provide up to A32.7 million worth of contracepti= ves over the next 15 months.

Ms Sally Taylor, DFID's Country Director for Ghana, said: 93A woman= 's ability to choose the number of children can have a major impact on her own health and that of her children, and their subsequent life chances. DFID is very pleased to be able to support the Ghanaian Government's commitment to ensure universal access to family planning services." DFID is the department which leads the UK Government's fight against world poverty. The UK is one of Ghana's largest bilateral aid donors, and it will continue to increase development assistance to Ghana up to 2014-15. Other UKaid support for family planning and reproductive health in Ghana includes a project by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) providing peer educators for young people, and research led by the Population Council which will be used to strengthen and expand reproductive health programmes.

In addition, the UK Government is providing funding for a new reproductive health project led by Marie Stopes International and IPAS, which will work in Ghana and 13 other countries in Africa and Asia. Over the next five years, this Preventing Maternal Deaths and Unwanted Pregnancies Programme will seek to prevent 18,300 maternal deaths and 2.8 million unintended pregnancies.

DFID is also currently designing additional programmes to strengthen family planning and reproductive health in Ghana.