Sunday, October 17, 2021

CSOs want an independent secretariat that addresses social protection issues

 Civil society actors are calling for an independent secretariat that addresses issues on social protection in Ghana.

The civil society organizations say there is the need to de-politicize social protection issues that offer a stronger legal framework for the benefit of the vulnerable in society.

The issues came up at a meeting organized by Civil Society Platform for Social Protection – Ghana and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation to solicit inputs and look at strategies to advocate the passage of Ghana’s Social Protection Bill.

Social protection covers the range of policies and programmes needed to reduce the lifelong consequences of poverty and exclusion

Dr Stephen Afranie, a senior lecturer at the Centre for Social Policy Studies, University of Ghana, took participants through the proposed Social Protection Bill, calling on civil society organizations to work together to ensure the passage of the bill into law.

He noted that Ghana has implemented some Social Protection initiatives since independence times but the policies are usually scattered and makes monitoring difficult.

Dr Afranie mentioned the Free Senior High School programme, the Metro Mass Transit buses, National Health Insurance Scheme and the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty Programme (LEAP) among others as some social protection programmes that had benefitted various vulnerable groups in Ghana

Among the recommendations in the proposed Social Protection Bill is the need for the  government to extend social protection programmes to cover caregivers of beneficiary groups especially persons with disabilities and the aged.

Participants at the workshop agreed to engage in advocacy that aims at improving the lives of the vulnerable in society

Mr David Norden Botwe, Chairman of the Civil Society Platform for Social Protection – Ghana, said the goal for social protection must aim at lifting people out of poverty and making them productive citizens.

Once adopted the law will provide a legal, regulatory and financial framework to secure social protection for Ghana’s most vulnerable population.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Pay attention to issues affecting children with cerebral palsy – Otiko Djaba to Government

Madam Otiko Djaba, a Disability advocate, has called on the government to pay attention to issues affecting especially mothers of children with cerebral palsy.

She said: “These mothers go through a lot of stress and frustrations and I fear for a future where the mothers may not be there and the children are left to die.

Ms. Djaba who is also the founder of Henry Djaba Foundation, a disabled based organization, made the call when she hosted some mothers of children with cerebral palsy as part of World Cerebral Palsy day.

World CP Day is celebrated on the 6th of October every year to draw attention to issues affecting people with cerebral palsy.

This year’s celebration is on the theme: Millions of Reasons, calling on people to celebrate persons with cerebral palsy for the millions of reasons they need to be celebrated.

Ms. Djaba lamented that it is as a matter of urgency that government should act, by creating rehabilitation centres, ensuring that schools implemented the inclusive education policy and work on creating a good social support system that helped mothers with trained caregivers.

Ms. Emelia Gynkel Bawa, an Executive member of the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy programme on cerebral palsy issues, called on government to include the medications given to children with cerebral palsy in the National Health Insurance scheme.

She also called on the general public to show empathy and accept children with cerebral palsy, saying, “those children are not cursed, they are blessed and need to be loved.”

Monday, October 4, 2021

Adopt a different approach to manage neurodevelopmental disabilities – Trainer

A training programme for rehabilitation professional working with children with Neurodevelopmental disabilities on Monday opened with a call for professionals to look for a new approach to managing such disabilities

Mr Kees Van Den Broek, Former Director of Liliane Foundation, a Netherlands based organization, said the same approach that was used in the 80s to manage orthopedic conditions such as club foot, polio etc. is the same approach being used to manage recent complex disabilities.

He said: “There is the need for a different approach to managing neurodevelopmental disabilities which focuses on the wellbeing of the child and the family and centers on the role of parents.

The training programme, the first of its kind, is hosted by the Salvation Army Ghana and Togo Territory in partnership with the University of Education, Winneba with support from Cerebral Palsy Africa.

Participants were from Ghana, Uganda, DR Congo

Dr Colonel Samuel Amponsah, Territorial Commander of the Salvation Army Ghana, noted that there seems to be a shortage of competent rehabilitation specialists when it comes to managing some neurodevelopmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy.

He therefore lauded the training and urged participants to take the training seriously and endeavor to make a difference in the lives of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Captain Kwesi Eyi Acquah, Presiding Member of the Effutu Constituency who represented the Member of Parliament for the area Mr Alexander Afenyo -Markin, pledged the MP’s commitment and support towards children’s neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Major Agartha Essel, Director in charge of Medical, social and community services at the Salvation Army, urged participants to be open minded to embrace the new thinking of the training officers.

Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Executive Director of the Special Mothers Project, said it was important that therapists and rehabilitation professionals embrace a new way of engaging parents in their approach to managing cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental conditions.

Ms Annelove Prempeh, Mother of an 18-year-old Lady with cerebral palsy shared her experiences with the participants

Mr Norden Botwe, Executive Director of SWEB Foundation, a disability based non-governmental organization, who chaired the opening ceremony said the training programme was innovative.

He called on stakeholders to work together

Neurodevelopmental disabilities are a group of disabilities that affect the development of the nervous system, leading to abnormal brain function which may affect  movement, emotion, learning ability, self-control, and memory.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Religion and disability

 I probably should have done a video to articulate on this issue very well, perhaps at an appropriate time I will but for now let me just type my thoughts.

I will describe my family as a Christian one, when I was a child, I saw my father pray fervently every day, (he still does) and my mother too. I can still recall some of my mother's prayer lines "Awurade hy3 wo ho anuoyam" (God Glorify yourself) in a Fante tone. I recall how I used to imitate my mother when I was asked to pray and how my mother will laugh about it. We were staunch Presbyterians. My mother's father was a Presbyterian Priest and my father, an active and spiritual member of the church and other spiritual based groups.

So, I grew up literally in church, those who know me in Obuasi will testify, I went through the process, children's service, Junior Youth and YPG.

I started preaching in church at a very early age, my love and passion for the things of God, morality and being right was top notch.

Prayer has been my thing for years; I do not even feel complete when I step out of the house without having to spend hours in meditation and prayers. I believe in God and in prayers.

One thing that has come to solidify in believe in the existence of God (if you like, The Universe) is my now eight years old daughter who lives with cerebral palsy.

Growing up, I was very curious about God and what role He (God) played in my life. I used to ask all the difficult questions. I could sit with pastors asking deep questions about God. I can never forget a time when my father scolded me because I asked him something God related and he didn't know how to respond. I remember he (my father) telling me, you cannot combine studying religion and spirituality with your regular academics, choose one (now I laugh anytime I remember that) I guess he was very frustrated with me.

Now I understand him, somethings are only taught you by the Universe.

This is just a background to my discussion today. As a woman with a child who has cerebral Palsy and who decides to talk about my child publicly, one of the most common questions or suggestions I get is prayer. People are very quick to refer me to one pastor or another.

I believe that most people who do this, do this from a good place. It is very common when I meet people who suggest one pastor or another who they believe is good in "miracles"

Initially, in the very early stages of my daughter's development, I was interested and gave some of those suggestions a go.

For example, when my daughter was just about a year old, we (my husband and I) visited a supposed Christian spiritual place where among other things told me what my daughter suffers is "asram" in local parlance. (is under some kind of a spell) They bathed her with some leaves and gave me what I will call concoctions to be given her.

The first time I gave my daughter that concoction was the first time we recorded a convulsion (Seizure) in her life. That spiritual Centre also gave me something and said if I kept that thing that person who did that to my daughter will die.

It was very expensive but I coughed money to pay for it, at the time, I was very bitter, I was ready to fight the battles with my strength and any resource I ever got went into fighting that battle.

At this same spiritual Centre, I was again told that all children that I give birth to will have “Asram” as long as I breastfed them. Today to the Glory of God, I have two healthy and strong children, a boy and a girl after my daughter Eyram.

I do not underestimate the power of God in healing my daughter Eyram from cerebral palsy, I know God can do it but for the last eight years of my life, I have learnt never to be desperate about any situation in my life.

For all the time that I was desperately looking for “healing” for my daughter Eyram who lives with cerebral palsy, my life got worse, her situation worsened, so called spiritualists took my hard-earned money.

I will never forget a time when a man who I have not solicited any help from, saw my daughter and immediately started prophesying…. Yes, that man said, “this thing that happened to your daughter is from your husband’s family, he said other things as well” because of my desperation, I believed him, however, I mentioned every single thing he told me to my husband.

I remember signing a fat cheque for this man because he promised to do a few things to reverse the cerebral palsy on my daughter, I gave him 10 times the amount he asked for, all I wanted was for my daughter to get healed.

This man continued to lead me on, till he told me to meet him at 3.45Am at a particular four-square junction, he was going to pray for my unborn child, I was pregnant at the time, he said he will place his hand on my stomach and say some incantations, at that, I backed off and never picked his call again.

My life turned around for the better when I accepted my daughter for who she was, this was after I have prayed over a million times about my daughter’s situation.

I remember driving and praying so hard that one man who was driving beside me and observing me, rolled down his glass and said to me with the broadest of smile “God has heard you”

One day, during my usual driving and praying spree, I heard within me, “the Solution lies within” it was after this that I went within to find purpose. God definitely has a purpose for my daughter’s life.

I tell people that of all the three children that I have, Eyram was the one I prayed and asked God for. Before her pregnancy, I use to pray and ask God for a child, I have knelt down before the altar in the North Kaneshie congregation of the Presbyterian church, alone, praying for a child and this child was Eyram.

To the Christian and religious community, do not be quick to suggest that it is because someone didn’t pray enough or because a person suffers a curse or something negative that the person have a child with disability.

You are not God and you cannot tell the mind of God, these days, there are times that I pray and even forget to pray for Eyram’s healing, I am seeking the higher things of God, that I should be a vessel of honour unto God, that God’s light should permeate me, that God should use me to touch the world in the most positive way

Who knows, perhaps my daughter Eyram is an answer to some of these prayers I offer.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Centre for Childhood and Learning Disability begins mobile rehabilitation clinic

The Centre for Childhood and Learning Disability has started a mobile rehabilitation clinic for children with cerebral palsy.

The therapy clinic organized every Saturday provides one stop therapy services for the children.

Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, speech therapists and other health professionals are brought together to provide services for families of children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities at no cost to the families.

Dr Kwame Sakyi, Director of CLCD said the community based mobile rehabilitation clinic was a pilot to equip parents with the necessary therapy skills for them to practice with their children at home.

The mobile rehabilitation clinic is done in partnership with the Princess Marie Louise hospital in Accra and the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy programme for children with cerebral palsy and their families. So far the programme has reached about 50 families.

He said for now the rehabilitation clinic is done in just one community but when successful it will be extended to other communities and urged families of children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities to patronize the service.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Caregiving, a thriving sector that we are ignoring

Niek, a Dutch was taking Adwoa, a Ghanaian on a visit to the Netherlands around his neighbourhood in and pointed to a building that housed the aged.

Adwoa shrugged and Niek noticed it, since Niek had lived most of his productive life in Africa as a Tropical doctor, he knew how most Africans perceived aged homes, so he quickly added, your country is developing and soon you will find the need for such establishment.

Many years down the line, Adwoa, a Ghanaian living in Ghana is considering setting up what she wants to term as a Care Giving Institute to train especially the youth to take up careers as caregivers.

Adwoa, grew up in Ghana in a middle-income home, growing up, her household always had people who were not her biological family staying with them. Adwoa’s mum was a baker and her dad worked with an international cooperation

She had three other siblings, however, at any point in time, there were two extra hands living with them, those people usually stayed with the family for a minimum of two or three years and her family would then enroll them into a trade, such as hair dressing or dress making.

Male hands that stayed with them were also enrolled into carpentry or were supported to learn fitting (mechanics).

In Ghana, the norm was that if you started a new family as a young lady and you were expecting a child, you usually will move to your mother’s home for support or your mother will move into your house to support you.

However, Adwoa’s mother died early and by the time she was ready to start a family, she was on her own.

It is becoming a common in Ghana to start a family and not have anyone readily available to support your new family with child nurturing and house keeping

What was termed as house helps have taken on a new identity, some call them Nannies, others call them house keepers and for families raising children with disability or special needs, they are called caregivers.

Not only that, there are families in Ghana now needing care for their aged, and so it is common to see people advertise on social media for care services for the aged and persons who have gotten a stroke.

Sika, a Ghanaian living in the United States who shared her experience living abroad said in the developed countries, caregiving is a big industry.

Termed as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), they are considered an integral part of the patient process in healthcare

Also called a nurse aid or a patient care assistant they help with tasks including turning or moving patient, bathing patients, grooming patients by brushing their teeth, combing their hair, feeding patients and documenting their food and liquid intake, cleaning rooms and bed linens, assisting with some medical procedures, taking care of wounds just to mention a few.

 Sika said satirically, that “in the states you need certification to wipe the bum of an aged person”

As Ghana continues to develop, many, especially those starting new families have expressed the need to professionalize what we termed house help especially for families raising children with disability.

Adwoa, sharing her experiences, said, “I am a working mother and my children are young, I need someone with the right mind frame to take on a career as a professional caregiver who will understand the role, I want them to play.”

Adwoa says she has encountered a lot of wrong attitudes from those who come in to work as caregivers for her children, attitudes ranging from using wrong words, to hitting the children wrongly when they shouldn’t.

“I have developed a welcome pack for anybody who comes into my home to work as a caregiver and in it I am explicit about what your roles and responsibilities are as well as your rights and your rewards,” she added.

Adwoa says she is considering starting a caregiver institute that will teach and train especially the youth to take on careers as caregivers.

She says: “I want to train caregivers who respect my family values, who do not impose their ideas on my children, caregivers who accept that wiping the bum of a child is an important responsibility and do it joyfully.”

In the United States Nursing Assistants earn on average an hourly rate of 13.50 dollars, In Ghana, the Labour law states that domestic workers are required to be paid not less than the National Daily Minimum wage which is GHc11. 82

Adwoa says my live-in caregivers are given accommodation, food, use of water, electricity and have other privileges of living in the house with my family in addition to paying them between 400 and 500 cedis a month.

Most people who work as “house helps” in Ghana are given accommodation, food and other basic provisions in addition to their salary, meanwhile a young man who travels to the city to look for a job as an accountant or marketer for instance is not given these privileges.

Employment or the lack of it, remains a huge burden on government, while many says the jobs are non-existent, Adwoa says taking on care giving as a job or a career is a first step to solving some of our unemployment challenges

Caregiving is not a menial job, and for some people their future is caregiving, Adwoa says


Saturday, August 7, 2021

Why I would join a “Fix Yourself” demonstration any day

Ghana witnessed a demonstration dubbed “Fix the Country” on the 4th of August, 2021, among other reasons, organizers and people who joined in this demonstration believes that the country lacks effective leadership.

Some said people in political offices have not demonstrated leadership enough, others are against the building of the National Cathedral which has become topical and many said there was hardship.

While I agree partly with the reasons assigned by the organizers of the Fix the Country demonstration, I have, from the first day of the Fix the country, fix yourself, debate, believed that we should be discussing how to fix ourselves as a people.

I believe that when we are able to effectively fix ourselves, it will automatically translate into fixing the country and I will give an explanation into that soon.

Just recently, I witnessed a situation at the 37 Military Hospital that got me traumatized. A single mother of a nine-year-old with cerebral palsy, said her child was having continuous seizures. This child was admitted to the hospital, I happen to visit this mother two times at the hospital.

Every time I visited, the child was having a seizure, the first time I visited was when they were first admitted, the second time was a week after admission.

During my second visit, I met the young man having a serious seizure which resulted in him biting his tongue and blood oozing out of his mouth. I was shaken because, the nurses present seems to be at their wits end.

I spoke with all three nurses present and their response was we are trying to get a doctor to come, I was in the hospital for 20 minutes and even at the time I was leaving, the young man was having the seizure.

I visited this mother because she approached me for help. I run a not-for-profit advocacy organization that supports children with cerebral palsy and their families, while at the hospital, I took a video of the boy having a seizure, my thoughts were to ask for prayer support for this young man since the medics seems to be at their wits end and also to see if through the power of social media, we could link them to a specialist.

The hospital staff on seeing the video on Facebook threatened the mother of the young man to blackmail me to pull the video down with a simple reason that I mentioned the hospital and also mentioned that there was no doctor.

The truth is there was no doctor to attend to the helpless child, whether the “no doctor” was intentional or not, I cannot judge but the attitude of the hospital about the video on social media made me feel something was wrong.

Perhaps, nurses were not doing something right, they didn’t give the care they were suppose to give or something and they were using threats to cover up their wrong attitude. Their wrong attitude which needs fixing.

So, if government fix the healthcare situation in the country by completing the 88 hospitals and the staff in the hospital have an “I don’t care about you attitude” the healthcare situation will still not be fixed.

It is common knowledge that Ghana have some very good laws, but those laws remain on paper, it doesn’t get implemented. The person employed by government to ensure the implementation of the law, perhaps benefits from the law not working and so will ensure that the law does not work.

I appreciate health workers very much for the yeoman’s job they do especially in this Covid era but in a situation where a health care worker looks on for an innocent child to die because they are at their wits end and nothing pushed them to show an iota of care to a suffering child and mother, no, it is a fix yourself situation.

A day after the incident, I woke up and during my morning meditation, I prayed: “Oh God, May I and my family members not be at the mercy of our health care system, May I have enough money to afford healthcare at Euracare or healthcare in a developed country where I believe that the healthcare personnel employed to work there are obliged to show a bit of care about my pain.”

I am of the firm believe that if as many of as possible made a decision to fix ourselves by doing the right thing, doing what we are paid to do, respecting human beings no matter the status or “class” we think they are, it will have done a greater part of fixing the country.

I will not hesitate to join a fix yourself demonstration any day