Stakeholders call for proactive health policies for the poor
The Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) has called for the review of existing health policies and interventions targeted at vulnerable groups as most of these have failed to address their needs.
It suggested the harmonisation of all social intervention policies of the health, education, agriculture, gender and road sectors, which had responsibilities for their implementation aimed at addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.
Dr Fransica Pobee-Hayford, a Consultant for the ARHR, who made the call at a State Actors Meeting on Thursday, said currently, policy frameworks and interventions aimed at achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) did not really affect the groups that needed them, leading to masked inequalities in health delivery and services.
She cited instance where the citing or deployment of Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds had been focused on political preferences rather than meeting the needs of vulnerable populations.
Again social intervention programmes such as the School Feeding, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty, National Health Insurance Scheme, as well as the Free Senior High School Education,had failed to address the needs of these groups as there were wide inequality gaps.
“However the Sustainable Development Goal Three commits governments to ensure that all people, including the poorest and most vulnerable, have equal access to quality health services, without suffering financial hardships,” she said.
“So this is what we are saying, that our policies should be harmonised in such a way that it is actually delivering for the people who are the most vulnerable in our societies and if we are not doing it then we are doing something wrong,” she said.
The meeting, which was convened by the Alliance, therefore, sought for inputs into its on-going situational analysis on: “Integrating Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in UHC in Ghana,” which would inform government in its future policy formulation.
Dr Pobee-Hayford explained that every society had a group of people who were challenged in one way or the other through no fault of theirs, and were rendered vulnerable because of their circumstances, adding that society had the responsibility to take care of their needs.
“So when we bring this into the context of UHC, we will find out that these group of people usually have more health needs than the ordinary people and, therefore, as a responsible society we have a responsibility to identify these groups of people, what makes them vulnerable and address these needs,” she said.
In a presentation that situated the integration of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) within the UHC, Dr Pobee-Hayford said people were excluded from mainstream benefits of programmes because of the social dynamics and power relations within societies.
She said identifying deprived communities and vulnerable populations had now been made easy with the existence of facts and information from poverty maps, the Ghana Living Standards Surveys, and research data on disability in Ghana since 2010.
“If you come to the inner cities, we know where the slums are and these are the people who are likely to have the most challenges,” she said.
She said although the Ministry and the Ghana Health Service had done a lot over the years to achieve UHC, they had not been able to present data to appropriately address the gaps and provide more infrastructures to sustain the gains.