CSOs advocates for Gender Equality and Social Inclusion

Christabel Addo/Elizabeth Yaa Brobbey, GNA

Accra, Jan. 28, GNA
– Representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and the media, on
Tuesday, met in Accra to advocate state institutions to be more accountable in
meeting Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) commitments in Universal
Health Coverage (UHC).

They argued that to
attain UHC in Ghana, there was the need to ensure the systematic integration of
GESI actions into national health policies and programmes, and their adoption
of such activities by all stakeholders to ensure that no one was left

The meeting was
organized by the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR), a Ghanaian
Non-governmental Organisation, with sponsorship from the STAR-Ghana Foundation.

It was to share with
the participants, the outcome of a participatory monitoring and recommendations
of a project that sought to ensure the systematic integration of GESI actions
into national health policies and programmes in three districts in two regions.

Ms Doris Ampong,
ARHR Communications Manager, said the the group seeks to ensure that every
Ghanaian, whether rich or poor, young or elderly, female or male, had access to
the best reproductive health care.

This, she said could
be achieved by challenging systemic and structural inequalities in health
systems and other basic services necessary to avoid preventable deaths and
mistimed pregnancies, through advocacy, promotion of responsive service
delivery, good governance and accountability.

She said the project
areas include the Agona East; and Komenda-Edina-Aguafo-Abirem (KEEA) in the
Central Region; and South Dayi Districts in the Volta Region.

She recounted how a
GESI monitoring tool was developed to guide and support stakeholders in the
uptake of their duties, and a subsequent auditing to determine the extent to
which the instrument had been utilised.

Ms Ampong explained
that subsequently, some key recommendations had been made to address the
deficiencies identified, which included ease of access to health care
facilities and services by GESI groups, (basically involved Persons with
Disabilities (PWD), pregnant women, aged).

Again, there was an
issue regarding punctuality on the part of some health care personnel who
resided far from their place of work, hence report late to their duty posts.

She said lack of
disability friendly services including privacy for adolescent sexual and
reproductive health services, as well as proximity of health facilities to

Other deficiencies
identified included the provision of healthcare services covered by the
National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and satisfaction with healthcare
facilities and services, saying health officials ought to explain the details
of patient’s ailments as it was within the patient’s rights to be fully

“There is the need
to educate both rights holders and healthcare workers on proper client
engagement in keeping with the rights and responsibilities in the NHIS policy

“The Community
health Worker Manual and the Patient’s Rights Charter, is to allow client to
hold healthcare service providers accountable for any lapses in punctuality,
conduct or care,” she added.

Ms Ampong said quite
a number of the recommendations of the Alliance, which was captured in the
policy brief have been implemented, however there still remained a number of
things to ensure that GESI groups were wholly considered in national health

The participants in
various group discussions, identified further gaps regarding effective access
to healthcare services, citing hostile toilet facilities, absence of clear
signage for direction, or sign language interpreters to assist and direct PWDs,
particularly those with visual and speech impairment.

They further
identified the issue of negative and unprofessional attitudes often exhibited
by some healthcare professionals towards patients including PWDs.

They suggested
punitive measures such as suspension of their salaries and outright dismissal
for recalcitrant staff, while instituting simple but competitive in-house award
schemes to motivate health workers and instill discipline at the workplace.