Accra,-The Ghana Health Service and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to champion key health behaviours for positive social change.
The five-year award initiative, dubbed, USAID/Ghana Accelerating Social and Behavior Change (ASBC) activity, seeks to increase and sustain the adoption of healthy behaviours and practices that improve health outcomes among Ghanaians.
It would also enable Ghana Health Service Health Promotion Division (HPD) to achieve its strategic objective to lead Social and Behavior Change (SBC) efforts using tested mass media and community engagement tools.
The ceremony, which signified the launch of the project was on the theme, “Implementation of USAID/Ghana Accelerating Social and Behavior Change (ASBC) Activity in Ghana”.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director General, Ghana Health Service, speaking at the ceremony, said, signing the MOU with its accompanying Workplan marked the beginning of the project that would support the Service achieve its mandate.
“With good leadership, effective collaboration, and experienced technical support I have the firm belief that we will achieve great results in the five-year duration of the project,” he said.
He underscored the need for Ghanaians to redouble their efforts to accelerate social and behaviour change in the health-seeking habits of the populace which was critical to saving lives and reducing mobility and mortality, especially during the pandemic.
He urged health officers to find creative ways to engage and collaborate with the private sector to advance the adoption of key healthy behaviours and actively take part in the larger public health agenda.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye reiterated the need for Ghanaians to continue to observe the COVID-19 safety protocols saying, “the President’s 28th COVID-19 address on wearing of nose mask not being mandatory does not mean that people should not wear it.
“It means persons found not wearing the masks will not be arrested but they are putting their own lives at risk since the virus is still in existence” he added.
Dr Zohra Balsara, Health, Population and Team Lead USAID/Ghana, expressing excitement about the initiative explained that “the project, first starts with understanding the root causes, including the knowledge, attitudes, and practice, and social norms that affect behaviour change.
The USAID Team Lead citing an example said behaviour change was very important and unless people understood the factors that inhibited the adoption of behaviour, they would not make lasting behaviour change.
Dr Balsara, mentioning some of the success stories of USAID’s previous flagship social and behaviour change activity, advised health promotion officers to reinforce positive behaviours through interpersonal communication and regular in-person contact with citizens.
She said the HPD was the foundation of all successful health interventions and assured that the USAID would continue to rely on their leadership and expertise to ensure every person in Ghana
was informed and empowered to make healthy decisions.
“We know behaviour change is not easy, but we are committed to doing business differently. We are excited to see the results we will achieve together with the Government of Ghana over the next five years to improve the demand and uptake of healthy behaviours.” Dr Balsara stated.
Dr Dacosta Aboagye, the Director of the Health Promotion Division, said the project, being implemented in 17 districts (Zones of Influence) in the Northern Region and parts of the country is targeted at women of reproductive age, newborns, children, and adolescents to sustainably adopt healthy behaviours and practices.
This includes timely use of health services and products nationwide where the most health disparities persist, he added.
The consortium partners in the implementation of the project include; FHI 360, Norsaac, Savanna Signatures, Mullen Lowe, and Ghana Community Radio Network.
Source: Ghana News Agency