Penplusbytes kicks off its Health Education and Resource Equity (H.E.R.E.) and Now project in Ghana and Mali on the back of several years of work to increase access to quality healthcare for vulnerable groups in Ghana.
Funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the two-year project will inform policy formulation and implementation for equitable access to health and education in the two countries.
The H.E.R.E. and Now project focuses on social protection policies and issues within the health and education sectors in Ghana and Mali specifically; but aims to improve citizens’ access to affordable, quality community health care in the African sub-region.
This will be as a result of the research outputs that the project will share with a wide group of actors in West Africa. The project is the first in a series of steps that the twenty-year-old Civil Society Organisation, Penplusbytes is taking to ensure that citizens across West Africa are mobilising properly to get governments to set aside budgets and resources to improve the quality of teaching, building classrooms and spaces that are conducive for learning especially at the basic levels of education and providing healthcare that prolongs life expectancy for them.
The Executive Director of Penplusbytes, Ms. Juliet Amoah explained Penplusbytes is implementing the project because, “we believe health and education serve as pillars to national development, thus contributing to the proper formulation and implementation of policies within these sectors is a worthwhile cause”.
Explaining why the project is being implemented in Mali as well, Ms. Amoah said “it will offer a strategic opportunity to analyse and compare factors that create an enabling environment or drawbacks in government’s efforts in making and implementing social protection policies that seeks to improve the livelihoods of their people in anglophone and francophone countries”.
The H.E.R.E. and Now project, is a citizen-oriented project as it seeks to leverage the Right to Information provisions that exist in Ghana and Mali, which enable citizens to understand more fully what their governments are doing or should be doing for them in the two sectors of health and education.
Penplusbytes intends to mobilise and empower the citizens of both countries to demand for better public service delivery in the two sectors, within the framework of political and social accountability.
To do this effectively, the project will deploy an App called “Short-changed” which will be backed by offline interventions such as story-telling, blogging and effective media messaging campaigns, to ignite and sustain public attention and interest on social protection policies in health and education.
Some key outcomes of the project will be its focus on monitoring the actions and inactions of public office holders, challenging institutional policies and practices at the local government level, as well as countering popular beliefs and practices which hinder the effective delivery of services in the two policy areas, so as to make long lasting changes.