Global Action for Women Empowerment (GLOWA) has launched a 12-month project to help deal with issues of stigma and discrimination against persons with disability (PWDs), with focus on quality and accessible mental health services.
The project, dubbed; “Stop Discrimination against Persons with Disability and Mental Health Disabilities” is under the auspices of Ghana Somubi Dwumadie (Ghana Participation Programme), a four-year disability programme, with a specific focus on mental health disabilities.
The Ghana Somubi Dwumadie is being funded by the UK AID and run by an Options’ led consortium, which consists of BasicNeeds Ghana, Kings College London and Sightsavers International, with Tropical Health as implementing partners.
Madam Rosemond Atutonu, the Executive Director of GLOWA, during the launch at Tongor-Dzemeni in the South Dayi District, said the project would be implemented in two districts; South Dayi and Biakoye in Volta and Oti regions, respectively.
It aimed to reduce stigma and discrimination against persons with disabilities, including persons with mental health disabilities, and scale up high quality and accessible mental health services in the beneficiary districts, she said.
It would also promote stronger policies and systems that respect the rights of PWDs and generate evidence to inform policy and practice on the effectiveness of disability and mental health programmes and interventions.
Madam Atutonu said PWDs could play a significant role in the country’s quest for accelerated socio-economic development when given the needed support, the reason GLOWA and its partners were implementing the programme to empower them.
Madam Ivy Bedy, the Project Officer, said it would be executed in five communities in each of the beneficiary districts and would sensitise the people on the effects of COVID-19 and the need to adhere to the safety protocols to stem its spread.
She said PWDs including persons with mental health disabilities would be educated on the Disability Act and Mental Health Act to enlighten them on their entitlements under the Constitution.
A civic forum would also be organised by the district assemblies to deliberate on how best to include PWDs in the decision making process at the local level, she said.
On safeguarding policies under the project, Madam Bedy warned people who would want to take advantage of the beneficiaries to stay away as they would be dealt with in accordance with the law when caught.
Mr Joshua Agbanyo, the Vice Chairman, Volta Chapter of Ghana Society for the Physically Disabled (GSPD), said PWDs, including persons with mental health conditions, were as useful as any other person, therefore they must be accorded the needed respect and dignity.
He said the barriers in society against PWDs were major factors preventing them from participating and contributing to the development of the country.
“My disability will only be felt if I’m not able to participate,” he said, and called on duty bearers to create an enabling environment and opportunities for PWDs to make them economically independent.
Mr Agbanyo urged the district assemblies to ensure that educational facilities were made accessible to PWDs.
He entreated PWDs to endeavour to read the country’s disability laws so they could apply them to prevent people from infringing on their rights.
Mr Sylvanos Tetteh, the South Dayi District Planning Officer, told the Ghana News Agency that the assembly had been providing support to PWDs based on the needs assessment conducted by the Social Welfare Department to make them self-reliant.
He said the Assembly undertook quarterly monitoring and impact assessment of the items to ensure they were put to good use and yielding the expected results.
Mr Philip K. Newa, a representative of South Dayi Social Welfare Department, said the Government had a lot of social interventions for PWDs including persons with mental health disabilities and urged them to take advantage of them to improve their standard of living.
He disclosed that the district had an album of names and details of PWDs and advised those that had not been captured to visit the Department.
Prosper Agbalenyo, a Mental Health Nurse of Biakoye Health Directorate, asked the public to ensure that persons with mental health disabilities were sent to medical facilities rather than prayer camps.
He said health facilities had professionals who would give them the necessary care including counselling for quick recovery.