The Government of Canada has contributed US$ 8 million as part of a strategic partnership with the Government of Ghana and UNICEF to strengthen lifesaving health, nutrition and sanitation services for children and women.
In response to the pandemic, the programme will focus especially on vulnerable groups in the Ashanti Region, which currently has the second highest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the country.
‘‘This assistance will improve quality health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene services in Ghana’s Ashanti Region with a focus on gender equality,’’ a statement by the Canadaian Government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), copied to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday, said.
It said the assistance would strengthen the region’s capacity to diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients through the provision of training and supplies that include; digital tablets, protective gear for frontline health workers, oxygen therapy equipment and laboratory equipment for regional laboratories and health clinics, to facilitate case management, data capturing, monitoring and follow-up.
Mr Kati Csaba, High Commissioner of Canada to Ghana, said: “It is clear that women and girls are being disproportionally affected by the pandemic.
Canada is proud to support UNICEF and the Government of Ghana in addressing gender inequalities in their work to prevent and respond to COVID-19. This will help us all achieve the ambitious targets set out through the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The statement said, frontline health workers, 2,000 community health nurses, 2,500 midwives, 100 environmental health and sanitation officers, and 700 community health committee members in the Region would receive training.
In addition, it said, 300 health clinics and 30 public spaces would have their water and sanitation facilities upgraded to help curtail the spread of the virus, and to ensure continued and improved health, water, sanitation, and hygiene services in the most populous region, where 5,924,498 people resided.
It stated that the partnership would provide policy guidance, planning and technical assistance, in close collaboration with the Ghana Health Service, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and other related Government agencies at the district, regional and national levels.
Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Representative in Ghana said strengthening preparedness, primary healthcare and integrated services across sectors could save lives now and help boost progress towards universal healthcare, as well as gender equality.
“We are delighted to partner with the Governments of Ghana and Canada to have a positive impact in the lives of the most vulnerable children and women,” she said.
Dr. Emmanuel Tenkorang, Ashanti Regional Director of Health Services, said the COVID-19 Response Partnership had come at the right time to enhance the region’s preparedness in infection prevention, build the capacity of health workers, and provide the needed critical COVID-19 diagnosis, management, and provision of essential health services to women and children.
“The entire Regional Health leadership appreciates this gesture and will ensure the successful implementation of this collaboration,” he said.
Dr Tenkorang said by engaging with community health committee members and mobilizing traditional and religious leaders, the Government and UNICEF would work together to address social norms and gender stereotypes.
That, in turn, he said would empower girls and women, elevate gender equality, and increase the demand for quality maternal and neonatal care, good infant and young children feeding practices, safe water, sanitation and hygiene, and also aid in preventing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
Global Affairs Canada leads the delivery of Canada’s international and humanitarian assistance and through its Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada works with its partners to promote gender equality and empower women and girls to help eradicate poverty and build a more peaceful and prosperous world.