The Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC), a research and advocacy organisation, has lobbied Parliament, to give policy attention to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) issues.
It said although Ghana had made significant progress in the area of SRHR over the past 20 years, with far-reaching improvements in institutional mechanisms as well as policy frameworks for women empowerment, awareness, the promotion of gender equality, equity, health care, including family planning and reproductive health services, and the prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), among others, there were still some gaps.
The HRAC called for the adoption of a national consolidated and specific SRHR Policy, due to the fact current legislation and policy frameworks were fragmented, making their effective implementation difficult to yield the desired outcomes.
Ms Wendy Abbey, the Technical Advisor at the HRAC, who led the advocacy, said closing the gaps in the legislation and policy frameworks on SRHR, would require their harmonisation to ensure effective implementation and delivery of services for women and girls.
She was addressing some Members of Parliament at a joint-committee briefing with the Coalition of NGOs in Health on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report on the country’s legal and policy situation in Accra.
The UPR, she explained, was an assessment of the country’s current legal and policy environment of SRHR which also facilitated the development of a Joint Civil Society Coalition Shadow Report on the issue, in contribution to the United Nation’s Review process on Ghana, which would be held November this year.
Ms Abbey said the HRAC’s assessment of the situation revealed that although several legislative and policy frameworks existed, in practice, women and girls continued to suffer from limited access to comprehensive sexual education, abortion services and contraception.
She said read out a number of recommendations that had been made by Civil Society in the UPR report which included the adoption of legislative measures in to a single national policy, to incorporate more of international and regional SRHR into explicit statutory provisions.
They also called for a comprehensive national SRHR curriculum to be development and implemented universally for children in and out of school across the country; the redrafting of the current law on abortion to reflect growing international practices, and also ensure the strict implementation of Child Marriage Policies.
Ms Abbey said other recommendations further stressed on the need for a comprehensive national survey prior to the development of a new policy or updating of legislative provisions, for effective collection and analysis of data on SRHR interventions and access to services nationwide, and also to raise awareness through a national campaign to empower the key population.
Mr William Kwasi Sabi, the Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, expressed gratitude to the HRAC and the Coalition of NGOs in Health for strengthening the capacities of CSOs since 2014, to ensure effective advocacy and monitoring on SRHR in Ghana.
He said the project was very important, as it provided an overview of the country’s SRHR presented several recommendations on how government might address the current gaps, and gave the assurance that Parliament would consider SRHR as a critical base for good health and national development and support its improvement.