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CSOs call for greater support for women reproductive health and rights

BY: Mohammed Ali
  The elected executives of African Civil society organisations (CSOs) league
The elected executives of African Civil society organisations (CSOs) league

The African Civil society organisations (CSOs) league has called for the strengthening and prioritisation of women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). 

The special focus on women and girls was due to the increasing numbers of needless death in maternal mortality cases and other health related issues that go a long way to affect their productive lives.

Speaking at the national consultative workshop on SRHR online tracking tool and launch of the Ghana chapter of African CSOs league last Wednesday, Dr Koma Jehu-Appiah expressed concern at such avoidable deaths and urged political institutions to implement international treaties they’ve signed on to.

The SRHR Online Tracking Tool is an initiative of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Africa Region (IPPFAR) to gauge advocacy activities and to know the various SRHR laws, conventions, protocols member countries have signed unto at the Global, African Regional and National level and to know their level of implementation.

Dr Jehu-Appiah expressed disappointment at the poor implementation of critical and topical programmes that affect the lives of Ghanaians especially sexual and reproductive health issues and called on the government to ensure women reach their maximum level of education in order contribute meaningfully to the country’s development.

He said although advocacy on such issues has gained considerable momentum in the cause of the years, government policies and other legislative frameworks needed to be worked on to advance reproductive health education in Ghana.

According to him, Ghana has not paid close attention to what women are going through and it was about time policymakers and advocates recognise that women also need protection.

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Dr Jehu-Appiah who is also the Executive Director of Ipas, a Sexual Reproductive Health Organisation asserted that Ghana has signed on to most of the international treaties and conventions but has been slow in its implementation.

According to Dr Jehu-Appiah who was also elected as chairman of the African CSOs league, one of the challenges confronting advocacy in the country was the intermittent diversion of focus by NGOs who tend to only pursue programs which have available funding.

He, therefore, called on them to remain focused on their specific visions and rather build their capacity to be able to advocate or fight for issues that threaten the social and health stability of Ghanaians.

“It’s important that we recognize that NGOs are formed for specific visions that they have ... If you are for girl child education stay in that lane for girl child education,” he said.

He said the CSO league was formally called the Reproductive Advocacy network for Africa (RANA) but the name was changed to expand and embrace other CSOs that are not necessarily into sexual and reproductive health.

“With this collective voice, I think we will have a headway because you don’t leave the government to take the decisions. Civil Society Organisation has a role to play in decision making especially when it comes to sexual and reproductive health,” he added.

Archibald Adams, the Advocacy Coordinator the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana said the purpose of the online tool was to track and know how the government was implementing the various conventions, treaties that it has signed on and to know which ones have been ratified or domesticated into Ghana’s laws.

He said this allows CSOs to collect accurate data that will help provide and improve on SRHR information and services in Ghana. 

Mr Adams explained that one of the key challenges of signing on to these international treaties was an implementation which requires an action plan.

He said the online tracking tool will help CSOs, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders to know the progress government was making in policy implementation and what areas of advocacy opportunities were available to be explored.