From Michael Boateng, Goaso
Lack of organisational capacity for advocacy, especially, at the grassroots level, has been identified as a key weakness of the disability movement and its progress in Ghana.
The situation, according to members of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD), infringes on their fundamental human rights, explaining that disabled persons in the country, especially, the deaf and the visually impaired, are unable to communicate their health needs to health professionals for medical attention.
As a move to address the situation, the Asunafo Branch of the GFD, which consists of the Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled (GSPD), the Ghana Blind Union (GBU) and the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD), under the sponsorship of the Flex Fund, has organised a two-day capacity building programme in advocacy for its members at Goaso.
The two-day advocacy workshop was to create a new framework for joint cooperation among actors of the disability movement in the Asunafo North Municipality, and to also build a strategic capacity within the organisations to give members of the federation the necessary skills to effectively and efficiently articulate their needs, as well as their feelings, particularly, on issues that affect them.
The participants, who were over 20 in number, were given training on the basics of advocacy, where they were taken through advocacy concepts, steps, tools, and types of advocacy, and the process of developing an advocacy strategy on the first day.
The aim of the first day was to equip the participants with the theorotical underpinnings of advocacy, to enable them participate meaningfully in the actual development of the advocacy strategy, whilst the second day was devoted to the development of the actual advocacy strategy framework.
The participants, at the end of the workshop, enumerated improved access to healthcare and health facilities, access to the 2% share district assembly common fund, and addressing the high unemployment rate of PWDs, as a priority issue they would tackle in the next twelve months, using the training they hag acquired.
They insisted that to advocate for the training of professional sign language interpreters by the GNAD who would be placed at all healthcare facilities in the municipality, to ensure that the health needs of their members, especially, those of GNAD, are met adequately.
Mr. Benjamin Amofa, an Assistant Director of Education at the Asutifi district in the Brong Ahafo Region, who facilitated the workshop, said even though they had commend the government for the institution of the National Health Insurance Scheme, which has come to mitigate the sufferings of the impoverished in society, it has failed to clearly recognise the health needs of the disabled, with respect to adequate attention to their peculiar health needs.
The Chairperson of the committee that undertook the workshop, Victoria Kinful, also, in an interview, stressed that the architectural designs of many health facilities also prevents PWDS from accessing health care, education, as well as other social benefits in the country, since movement was extremely difficult for them.
“If government has good health plans for the people of this country, but fails to recognise the needs of the disabled, then such plans become incomplete, since we are all Ghanaians,” he noted.