The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has announced plans to roll out a comprehensive health package to increase access to sexual reproductive health services for persons with disability (PWDs).
The initiative is in line with the service’s move to remove barriers that impede access to sexual reproductive health (SRH) in the country.
As a result, a workshop was organised in Accra yesterday to engage stakeholders to develop a set of standard operating practices and tools which would be used by service providers to increase access of PWDs to SRH information and services.
Dubbed: “Improving access to sexual reproductive health/Family Planning information and services for persons with disabilities”, it was organised by the GHS, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation (GFDO).
Persons with disability
The Director of the Family Health Division of the GHS, Dr Patrick Aboagye, in a welcome address, said the ultimate goal was to have a responsive health system that improved the health of PWDs, provided financial risk protection and conformed to the National Reproductive Health Policies and Standards (NRHPS).
He observed that although the convention on the rights of PWDs allowed them access to sexual and reproductive health care, that right remained unacceptably low in developing countries.
The President of the GFDO, Mr Yaw Ofori-Debrah, said 10 per cent of the world’s population lived with disability and that disabled women, in particular, faced barriers of equality and advancement as a result of bad perception by society.
“Perceptions are that PWDs do not have sexual feelings; women with disabilities are unable to get pregnant and PWDs contribute to certain diseases because our voices have been muted by society,” he further stated.
Review Disability Act
An Associate Professor at the Regional Institute of Population Studies of the University of Ghana, Professor Stephen Owusu Kwankye, called for a review of the Disability Act (Act 715) of 2006.
According to him, the act did not clearly spell out SRH for persons with disability, stating that it might not be compelling enough for service providers to see PWDs as also beneficiaries of rights to SRH services.
In a speech delivered on his behalf, the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, gave an assurance that the health sector would soon initiate a framework to guide inclusion of marginalised and vulnerable groups such as the PWDs in its policy implementations.
“As a ministry, we cannot tout our slogan of creating wealth through health if we continue to ignore access to health for PWDs,” he said.