Stakeholders in health, academia and disability rights have met in Accra to review the World Health Organization’s draft global report on health equity for persons with disability.
The workshop, organized by Sightsavers International brought together representatives from the various interests to assess and also make inputs into the draft report which is the first of its kind to be produced.
The discussions focused on situating the report in Ghana’s local context and make recommendations suited for the peculiar needs of persons with disabilities in Ghana that will ultimately ensure that they can achieve the highest attainable standard of health.
David Agyemang, the Senior Program Manager for the Ghana office of SightSavers International told Citi News that the inputs collected from the stakeholders will be communicated to the WHO to be considered in addition to the information gathered from its consultations towards the finalization of the document.
“This report is about how we can ensure health equity and we are looking at it within the Ghanaian context… There are currently lots of challenges regarding health equity for persons with disabilities in Ghana. For instance we don’t’ have sign language interpreters at health facilities and also health workers have not been trained to deal with persons with disabilities. Even most of our facilities are not accessibility to persons with disability. There are also issues relating to access to healthcare due to poverty among persons with disability… We want to receive several inputs from about how Ghanaians want to see health equity then we will send it to the WHO,” he said.
A Senior Global Advocacy advisor for Sightsavers International, Grace Antwi Atsu, said the aim is to push for equity in accessing healthcare and not equality and that can only be achieved if persons with disability are allowed to voice out their own challenges.
“We are trying to ensure that even as the report is being drafted, the voices of persons with disabilities are heard and incorporated into the draft report. One of the things that we’ve noticed is the fact that there are so many inequalities and these impact on persons with disabilities very differently and if you don’t get them to tell you exactly what the issues are, you will not address their problems. We are not looking at equality but equity,” she said.
She further called on the government to consider the concerns of persons with disabilities and find a way to incorporate their concerns into existing policies to boost access to healthcare.
“We are not just looking to hear from persons with disabilities but also government. We have the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and National Council for Persons with Disabilities as partners. We envisage that they will have the opportunity to hear about the consultation and also hear about the gaps from persons with disabilities. We know they are doing quite a bit but it is critical to ensure that policy makers are on the table to hear from those who benefit from their services so that the existing gaps will be filled,” she added.
Some of the participants who spoke to Citi News called for the creation of a specialized unit at the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service to promote the interests of persons with disabilities.
The WHO’s consultations are ongoing in different countries and is expected to end by December 2022 ahead of the finalization of the full report in 2023.