Stakeholders at a panel discussion in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region have called on government to include victims of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the National Health Insurance Scheme.
According to them, this would ensure that there were funds allocated to cater for the medical fees of survivors of such abuses and help reduce their burden.
They made the proposal at a forum organized by the Widows and Orphans Movement (WOM) as part of activities marking the 2021 International Women’s Day.
The celebration, which was part of the implementation of the ENOUGH! Project, was on the theme “highlighting women’s leadership in achieving a SGBV free world amidst COVID-19 pandemic”.
Dr Joseph Nyuzaghl, the Regional Deputy Director in charge of Public Health, noted that most of the victims of the SGBV were poor and could not pay for their medical bills.
He said due to that, victims of such abuses felt reluctant to visit the health facilities or even report to the appropriate authorities such as the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service for action.
Dr Nyuzaghl said records at the regional directorate of the Ghana Health Service revealed that cases of SGBV was on the increase.
He said in 2018, 2019 and 2020, there were 222, 306 and 308 cases of SGBV reported respectively to health facilities across the Region.
The Deputy Director in charge of Public Health noted that although the Ghana Medical Association came out with a policy which directs doctors to charge between GHC300.00 to GHC500.00, the deprived nature of the Region did not allow people to afford such charges.
He underscored the need for government to include medical fees for SGBV victims especially rape and defilement as part of the minimum package of the NHIS holders to cater for the medical bills, which would encourage people to report such cases and have the perpetrators dealt with to serve as a deterrent.
Detective Corporal Gyasi Prosper, the Regional Investigator at DOVVSU, called on government to resource and operationalize the Domestic Violence Fund established by Domestic Violence Act of 2007, Act 732 and being enforced by the Domestic Violence Legislative Instrument of 2016, LI 2237.
He said that would provide financial assistance to victims of SGBV and contribute to fighting the problem.
Mr Jaladeen Abdulai, the Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) noted that issues of SGBV and the operationalization of the Domestic Violence Fund needed multi-sectoral approach to compel major institutions such as the Regional Coordinating Council and the various Assemblies to make commitment towards resourcing the fund to assist victims of abuse.
Ms Fati Abigail Abdulai, the Executive Director, WOM, explained that ENOUGH! was a four-year project being implemented in collaboration with Oxfam Ghana and Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) with funding from the European Union.
The main aim of the project was to empower women, girls, boys and men to take positive action in ending sexual gender-based violence in Ghana, Liberia and Mali, she said.