Participants at the end of a day’s stakeholder engagement on addressing inequality in health and other sectors have called on government to formulate policies and programmes that target the appropriate deprived communities and individuals.
They expressed the hope that “government will initiate proper policies to address issue of inequality in the distribution of national resources among citizens.”
The stakeholder engagement organised by SEND-Ghana under the Democratic Governance in West Africa (DEGOWA) Forum, seeks to create a platform for stakeholders, civil society and the media to gain a better understanding of how the 2018 budget and Medium Term Development Plan of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies propose to reduce inequality in the country.
They also want government to include in the training of health professionals in sign language for persons with disability and urged government to initiate policies that would enable persons with disability to have employment quota in organisations.
Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Health Committee, speaking at the event said the country needed to wake up and see how it could do more in the area of social protection.
He commended the organisers of the programme for their efforts to address the issue of inequality and social protection among the citizenry.
He said if the country wanted to address the issues of inequality, the role of the traditional authorities should be factored into the debate, where government and stakeholders would collaborate effectively in providing social protection services to the people.
Mr Philip Basoah, Member of Parliament for Kumawu constituency, said there was a noticeable trend in inequality worldwide, where countries become increasingly less unequal in the face of higher literacy, economic growth, democratic consolidation and urbanization.
He said in Africa especially, inequality has taken roots, with women and children being the worst affected because of culture, poverty, education and social status.
He said successive governments had taken steps to address inequality by introducing policies and programmes geared at reducing it, regardless, there was still much to be desired today, as inequalities were still glaring at us.
He said in the area of education, inequality manifests prominently in terms of access, cost and infrastructure, adding it was sad to recall that up to now pupil walk for long distances to school, with some having to swim during the raining season.
“While governments over the years have been building school blocks to increase access and enhance proximity in rural area, there is still more to do,” he added.
He said it was important that churches, non-governmental organizations, well to-do individuals and international organizations augment the efforts of government in extending educational opportunities to all; admittedly, government could not provide all the solutions.
He said while the country continued to say that government has limited finances to clear out inequalities, it was very essential that the public purse was protected and funds are spent prudently.
“Governments must ensure zero tolerance for corruption because large sums of monies go down the drain in corrupt practices. If we are able to save money and use what we have appropriately, we will be in the best position to provide for those who are in need,” he said.
Mrs Harriet Nuamah-Agyemang, the Senior Programmes Officer, SEND-Ghana said most interventions had still not reached the deserving people over the years.
She said several interventions had been implemented and contributed to social protection in the country but poverty levels in the rural areas were still high compared to that in the urban centres.