BasicNeeds -Ghana, a Mental Health Advocacy Non-Governmental Organisation, has organised community durbars in selected communities in the Upper East Region aimed at creating awareness on the need for persons with mental health disorders to access Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) information and services.
The community durbars were organised at the Sherigu community in the Bolgatanga Municipality and the Gbantongo community in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region on Thursday and Friday respectively.
The two occasions, which attracted stakeholders, including traditional, religious and opinion leaders, Assembly members, mental health volunteers and Self Help Group leaders received funding support from the Amplify Change.
Addressing the stakeholders at the durbars, Mrs Mary Azika, a Senior Midwife with the Ghana Health Service, educated the community members that just like any other human being who is entitled to SRHR, persons with mental health disorders are also entitled to such rights.
She mentioned some of the SRHR which persons with mental health disorders are entitled to as right to SRHR information and services, Family Planning, right to become pregnant and to access antenatal and post-natal services.
“Under no circumstance should persons with mental health disorders be denied from accessing these services and I therefore urge you here as traditional, religious and opinion leaders to further use your various platforms to educate your subjects and congregants on the need to give equal treatment to persons with mental health disorders on issues regarding SRHR,” she stressed.
The midwife also used the occasion to appeal to health professionals not to discriminate against mental health patients when it comes to accessing SRHR information and services.
A Principal Investigator with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative of Justice (CHRAJ), Mr Edmond Alagpulinsa, explained that constitutionally, it was wrong for any health service provider to deny mental health patients with SRHR information and services.
He added that it was not only the constitution of Ghana that was against that but also the international protocols and warned community members who are fond of abusing mental health people to desist from that to avoid being sanctioned when caught.
The Project Officer of BasicNeeds, Ghana in charge of the Upper East Region, Mr Benard Azuure, explained that the community durbars are part of the implementation of the 24 months SRHR project funded by the Amplify Change aimed at building a strong movement for enhanced inclusive SRHR and information for vulnerable groups affected with mental health disorders in Ghana.
The programme, he announced, is being implemented in the Northern Region, led by NORSAC, Upper West Region, led by the Centre for People’s Empowerment and Rights Initiatives, Greater Accra Region, led by the Mental Health Society of Ghana and the Upper East Region, led by the BasicNeeds, Ghana.
He stated that other activities of the programme including sensitisation programme on radio on SRHR, training of Self Help Groups members, developed SRHR, health forums on SRHR had already been organised in the region.
Mr Azuure mentioned that the programme has a three angle approach and mentioned them as building a strong movements of civil actors for active involvement in mental health SRHR Advocacy, increase knowledge and create the awareness on how SRHR affect the poor and the vulnerable and create linkages and facilitate access for the poor and the vulnerable to access SRHR services.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, SHERIGU