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Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations calls for attention

By
Samira Larbie, GNA

Accra, July 6, GNA – Mr Yaw Ofori-Debrah, the
President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD), has called
on government to put out deliberate policies targeted at Persons with
Disability (PWD) for special attention.

He said
PWDs formed part of the population and their needs should be conceptualised,
implemented and evaluated on the same scale as persons not living with
disability.

Mr Ofori-Debrah made the call at the opening
of a two day workshop organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
in Accra.

It was to garner inputs from key stakeholders
for the development of guidelines aimed at improving access to sexual
reproductive health and family planning for PWDs.

This would allow for a responsive health
system that improves the health of PWDs, provide financial risk protection that
conforms to the National Health Policies and Standards.

Mr Ofori-Debrah said the limited information
and education on sexual reproductive health had contributed to the various
forms, which faced the PWDs.

He said people held a lot of misconceptions
about PWDs, which led to their sexual abuse particularly those with mental and
intellectual disabilities.

He said the voices of PWDs had been muted by
the society due to lack of available and accessible information.

He therefore urged the Ghana Health Service
(GHS) to ensure that all PWDs especially women and girls enjoyed their sexual
reproductive rights.

He appealed to the GHS to equip of health
professionals and parents to enable them support girls with disabilities.    `

Ms Erika Goldson, the Acting Representative of
the UNFPA in a speech read on her behalf that most of the vulnerable in
the  society had been captured under the
Sustainable Development Goals ‘3’ and ‘5’.

She said despite the provisions in Article 23
of the UN Conventions, which many countries had ratified, access to sexual and
reproductive healthcare, especially family planning remained unacceptably low
in many developing countries including Ghana.

Ms Goldson said the 2010 Ghana Population and
Housing Census Report estimated that three per cent of Ghana’s population were
with some form of disability with female accounting for about 52.2 per cent and
males 47.5 per cent.

The census indicated that visual impairment
was the most common disability constituting 40.1 per cent, physical challenges
25.4 per cent, emotional behaviour problems 18.6 per cent and intellectual
malfunctioning 15.2 per cent.

“Despite these large numbers, the needs of
PWDs and the marginalised are often overlooked,” she said.

Ms Goldson therefore called on the government
to act now to improve the situation.

Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health
in a speech read on his behalf commended the UNFPA for the workshop, adding:
“It came at an opportune time when the ministry had aligned its current
national development agenda for the purpose of the event.

He said the Ministry cannot boast of a middle
income status if it neglected PWDs who were a critical group of the population.

Mr Agyemang-Manu said various steps had been
taken to revise the curricula for the training of health staff particularly,
nurses and midwives in sign language.

This he said would improve the delivery of
quality health services, especially for PWDs.

Dr Patrick Aboagye, Director, Family Health
Division of the GHS said the Service had put in place plans to develop and
implement interventions to increase access to and use of integrated sexual
reproductive health services.

He expressed the hope this would help build on
its long and existing partnership with stakeholders to develop a set standard
operating practices and tools to be used by service providers to increase
access of persons with disability.

GNA

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