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Ghana’s reproductive rights advocate, Prof Sai passes on

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Ghana’s renowned physician in reproductive health and lifelong advocate for women’s sexual and reproductive rights, Prof. Fred Torgbor Sai, has passed on.

Prof. Sai, who passed on Tuesday morning, was, in June this year, celebrated by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the occasion of his 95th birthday.

He was named the Godfather of Family Planning in 2012 by the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, and is best known for his able chairmanship of the main committee of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

The 1994 ICPD, which was convened under the auspices of the United Nations, adopted the pivotal Programme of Action by consensus, which emphasized the fundamental role of women’s interests in population matters and introduced the concepts of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

Ghana Health Service

Prof. Sai served in several positions in the Ghana Health Service, including being Chief Physician for Nutrition and the Director of Medical Services. He was also a Professor of Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Ghana Medical School.

The author and editor of numerous publications relating to family planning, health and nutrition, he served as an advisor to the President and the Government of Ghana on Reproductive Health, Family Planning and HIV/AIDS as a final substantive assignment.

Awards

Prof. Sai received much recognition and numerous awards, both at home and abroad. Of special note are the 1993 United Nations Population Award and The Prince Mahidol Prize for his contribution to gender issues and family planning in 1995.

In 1998, he received the Harvard School of Public Health Alumni Award of Merit for his outstanding contributions to the field of public health, the highest honour the school bestows on its alumni.

In 2006, he was fittingly given one of the highest Ghanaian honours by then President J.A. Kufuor, the Order of the Star of Ghana.

He published his memoirs in 2010, titled: With Heart and Voice: Fred Sai Remembers. It is a vivid account of his childhood and his experiences in the world of reproductive health.

Danfa project

Prof. Sai was instrumental in the development of the Danfa Reproductive and Community Healthcare Facility in 1969.  Working with the  Department of Community Health of the Ghana Medical School, he actively solicited funding and partners to build and develop the project into a community reproductive healthcare provider and public healthcare research centre.

The rural healthcare facility was designed as a field laboratory to train students in community medicine and reproductive health care.

With support from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and funding from USAID, the Danfa Comprehensive Rural Health and Family Planning Project expanded to cover a large area, serving approximately 60,000 people.

The centre, designed to provide family planning services for people in the region in the most accessible, effective and affordable way, is now central to community and public health service provision in the area and is one of the very few research centres in Ghana.

He left behind his beloved wife, Mrs Florence Aleeno Sai, and six children.

 

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