Sexual and reproductive healthcare plan to be developed
An assessment workshop to develop a policy to support the country in the management of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services during emergencies has been held in Tema in the Greater Accra Region.
Participants assessed the country’s readiness to provide life saving minimum initial SRH services during emergency situations, among other measures.
Known as Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for SRH, the package is a collection of minimum actions to be implemented at the onset of crisis within 48 hours to help reduce mortality and morbidity related to sexual and reproductive health.
The essential elements of MISP are to prevent sexual violence and respond to the needs of survivors, prevent and reduce morbidity and mortality due to HIV and other STIs, prevent excess maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality, prevent unintended pregnancies and plan for comprehensive SRH services integrated into primary health care services.
The three-day workshop was attended by representatives from government institutions, the UN, civil society organisations, community-based organisations and private sector actors working in the area of SRH and disaster management
It is being implemented by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS), in collaboration with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
The consultant of the MISP Readiness Assessment process, Prof. Stephen Kwankye, said the workshop was part of the process to help the government assess its readiness to implement the MISP during an emergency.
It also provides a unique opportunity for the country to assess and understand its current preparedness to shape a targeted action plan to strengthen health systems and ultimately provide better SRH responses in cases of emergency.
He said that the MISP for SRH were a set of minimum reproductive health interventions to be put in place at the outset of a humanitarian crisis, adding that “the MISP includes the SRH services that are most important in preventing morbidity and mortality while protecting the right to life with dignity in humanitarian settings”.
In a statement read on his behalf, the Resident representative of the UNFPA, Dr Wilfred Ochan, said the country had done well in sexual and reproductive health.
“However, the current happenings in the sub region requires strategic planning and preparedness due to the refugee influx into Ghana from the neighbouring countries, including internally displaced persons worsening climatic conditions resulting in flooding and wildfire destroying property and humans.
“Pregnancies, labour and childbirth complications, risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV transmission and the need for contraceptives do not stop when an emergency strikes,” he added.
To mitigate such risks, Dr Ochan said access to quality SRH care in emergencies was essential, hence the reason UNFPA was providing financial support and technical assistance for the assessment and development of an action plan.
The Director of the Family Health Division of the GHS, Dr Kofi Issah, said the country has “been doing fire-fighting” when it has to respond to reproductive health needs of women and girls during emergencies.
He expressed the hope that the policy to be developed after the rapid assessment would help organisations to be critical ambassadors of essential reproductive health services during emergencies.
For his part, the Maternal Health Thematic Fund (MHTF) Consultant and Humanitarian Point person, UNFPA, Dr Divine Atupra, said the aim of the rapid assessment was to provide a snapshot of national and sub-national readiness and capacity to ensure access to essential SRH services as outlined in the MISP.