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Service providers urged to use multiple channels for sexual and reproductive health education

The complications some women go through when they are put on family planning, the lack of mobility of some health workers who provide outreach services, and the rudeness shown to patients by some healthcare providers engaged the attention of stakeholders at a joint community interface meeting and a media training workshop at the South Dayi district of the Volta region.

Other issues such as the need for health care providers, health promotion practitioners, and policy makers to use multiple channels and strategies including the use of radio stations, community information centres and health education programmes at the churches, mosques, and other outlets also came up for discussions during the meeting.

These discussions formed part of efforts to scale up and improve health care services, especially in the delivery of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care to vulnerable groups such as women and adolescents in the South Dayi district and the Akyemansa district in the Eastern region.

The community interface meeting and media training workshop, which took place at Kpeve in the South Dayi district was attended by health workers, policy makers, community members from the area and also group of journalists from the Greater Accra, Eastern and Volta regions.

It was organized by the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) and Women, Media and Change (WOMEC), two non-governmental organizations working on a “Women, Newborn, Children and Adolescent Wellbeing (WNCAW)” project.

The WNCAW project is being run under a Consortium for Mothers, Children, Adolescents and Health Policy and Systems Strengthening (COMCAHPSS) body and the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) and funded by the International Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada.

Mr. Nathaniel Adzotor, the South Dayi District Coordinating Director, who opened the meeting on behalf to the District Chief Executive, noted the importance of the project in the area and said it would help in improving the health outcomes of women, children and adolescents in the area.

Madam Emma Adom of the Social Welfare and Community Development Department in the district, said adolescents are vulnerable in areas related to their sexual and reproductive health and so they easily become victims who therefore need to be educated to protect them.

Mr Isaac Nyampong, coordinator of the WNCAW project at ARHR, told the gathering about some key findings from a community score assessment project undertaken in some local communities in the South Dayi and the Akyemansa districts, which focused on generating evidence on health services within eight communities in the two districts.

He said it was aimed at improving the quality of care for women, newborns, children and adolescents in line with Ghana’s agenda to achieve universal health coverage and also to meet the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The community scorecard assessment carried out between September and October, 2019, documented the experiences and perceptions of citizens in communities regarding the state of healthcare service delivery with particular reference to sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

The focus was to gather evidence to assist efforts to increase the health sector’s appreciation of clients’ views and needs, strengthen citizens’ capacity to hold duty bearers to account for the quality of service delivery and to ensure that healthcare workers deliver services more responsively and effectively.

Mr Nyampong said the assessment done in the communities was targeted at gathering information the quality, cost and accessibility of health care and how health services are rendered at health facilities to beneficiaries of these facilities, especially the vulnerable groups.

He explained that the interface meeting held and the media training, which brought together health services providers and community members, including the journalists is aimed at helping the all parties to figure out solutions to improving health care based on the findings from the community scorecard.

He touched on some findings related to complaints about the National Health Insurance Scheme and how the scorecard showed that many clients of the scheme were dissatisfied with the services they are getting from the NHIS.

Dr Charity Binka, Executive Director of WOMEC, who took the journalists at the meeting through the training on the WNCAW project, said the media engagement activities is aimed at promoting the activities of the project and also to step up advocacy on project so the journalists can engage policy makers, community members and other stakeholders and make them accountable to ensure quality.

She noted that the media plays a critical role in bringing reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health matters to the attention of people who can influence public health policies.

She touched on some areas that the media could focus on such as the risky behavior of self-medication, sharing friends’ medicines, avoiding healthcare facilities and using unproven and unlicensed spiritual and herbal remedies and how these impact negatively on the outcomes of community members’ health.

The WNCAW project being run the COMCAHPSS, is expected last for three years and it is being  targeted at country teams of multi-professional and multi-disciplinary, multi-level actors and stakeholders such as researchers, media practitioners, civil society organizations and health service providers from the following countries, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger and Sierra Leone in the ECOWAS sub-region.

Among some components of the project are the training of media practitioners, ongoing country-based research on the wellbeing of women, children and adolescents and also leadership and public health advocacy training for various stakeholders.

The project is also focusing on catalyzing and building capacities within the West African sub-region to generate and use research evidence to support the improvement of health care among vulnerable groups.

In line with this goal, a meeting was recently held in Abidjan for various stakeholders to engage on issues related to leadership in advocacy in public policy to empower them to use research and advocacy for the development of effective policies.

Prof. Irene Akua Agyepong, a public health physician and researcher at the Ghana Health Service, who addressed the opening of this meeting at Abidjan, said there is the need to build the capacities of key stakeholders in leadership, development and public policy to being about the needed change in health care service for women, children and adolescents.

She noted that public policies are tied up in political systems, processes and power and there is the need for some assessment to see why some policies are working and why others are not to help with service delivery in health care.

By Eunice Menka

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