A proposal has been made to the government of Ghana to consider the establishment of Disability Desks in all the country’s heath facilities to ensure ease of access by Persons with Disability (PWDs).
Such initiative, according to stakeholders, would embolden Persons with Disability to access the health facilities without fear of discrimination, stigmatization and the use of denigrating languages against them by some health officials when they visit the hospital.
Professionals who would be manning these desks, per the proposal, would assist PWDs, especially the blind around the facility, assist deaf people with sign language interpretation as well as support others with different forms of disability to access their health needs.
This, among other proposals were made at a Forum on ‘Improving Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Right of People Living with Disabilities.’
The Forum which was held in Accra recently under the auspices of the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights, brought together participants from government institutions, disability right groups, health professionals, Civil society organizations, the media among others.
It was put together to discuss stigma related issues affecting persons with disability in accessing Sexual and Reproductive Health by PWDs and to deliberate on steps for making SRH services more accessible to PWDs.
Welcoming participants to the forum, the Executive Director of Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights, Madam Vicky T.Okine the importance of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) has been highlighted in key development policies and commitments, namely the International Convention on Population and Development (ICPD), and more recently, in the Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 3.7 outlines the target to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services as a means to attaining universal health coverage by 2030.
Madam Okine in formed participants that present sent, studies in Ghana reveal that persons with disabilities (PWD)s, particularly, the hearing and the visually impaired and physically challenged, are deprived access to safe sexual reproductive health information and services and are increasingly vulnerable to abuse, cautioning that Ghana would struggle to realize SDGs targets if the SRH needs of PWD are not adequately addressed through an effective primarv healthcare system working to increase the safety, access, coverage and equity of specific services for PWDS and other socially excluded vulnerable groups.
During a panel discussion, Dr Yaa Asante, from the Family Health Division of the Ghana Health Service pointed out that nobody should be disadvantaged on issues related to sexual and reproductive health rights as government is giving serious considerations to the area.
According to Dr Asante, “PWDs issues are a priority to the Ghana Health Services” and that the Services would work in close collaboration with the disability fraternity to ensure that clients are given the best health care.
On her part, Madam Beatrice Akua Mahmoud, Programme Officer at the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations lamented the lack of records on PWDs at the country’s health facilities, a situation she described as unacceptable in the face of international best practices.
She added, “We should have records of PWDs so that provisions will be made for PWDs who access these services. Women and person with disability have special needs, so let’s raise awareness on the issues of sexual and reproductive health rights.”
The participant who were active throughout the deliberation expressed gratitude to the organizers for organizing the forum, demanding that more of such fora should be encouraged consistently in order to enhance their knowledge and to keep them updated on current happenings in the disability front.
By Mohammed Suleman