Accra, 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.
Source: Ghana News Agency