VOICE Ghana, a disability rights and advocacy institute in the Volta Region, is to launch a 33-month project to address stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities (PWDs), including people with mental health conditions in Volta and Oti Regions.
Dubbed ‘We-Matter Project’ it would be launched on June 8 under the auspices of Ghana Somubi Dwumadie (Ghana Participation Programme), a four-year disability programmme, with a specific focus on mental health.
Ghana Somubi Dwumadie is being funded by the UK AID and is run by an Options’ led consortium, which consists of BasicNeeds Ghana, Kings College London, Sightsavers International and Tropical Health as implementing partners.
Mr Francis Asong, Executive Director VOICE Ghana, said the country made significant progress over the past years in education and sensitisation on the rights of PWDs, including people with mental health conditions to be treated on an equal basis with others.
However, he said the issue of negative attitude, stigmatisation and discrimination against PWDs, including people with mental conditions persisted, necessitating drastic and pragmatic mechanisms to tackle it.
The Executive Director said it was in the light of this that VOICE Ghana and other eight partners with financial assistance from Ghana Somubi Dwumadie were implementing the programmme to help deal with the issue of stigma and discrimination.
“The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) estimates that 20 per cent of the population in Ghana has some form of disability. Meanwhile, approximately 2.8 million (10 per cent) of the population are estimated to have some form of mental health conditions.
According to formative research conducted by the Ghana Somubi Dwumadie in 2020, PWDs, including people with mental health conditions in Ghana, are poorer than their non-disabled peers in terms of access to education, healthcare, employment, income, justice, social support and civic involvement.
Mr Asong said the project would focus on promoting the rights and opportunities for PWDs, including people with mental health conditions in community life.
It will also focus on awareness creation on positive behavioural change towards PWDs, including people with mental health conditions.
He said 20 target Self-Help Groups (SHGs) of PWDs, including people with mental health conditions and women with disabilities, would benefit from capacity building training to make them more assertive in demanding their rights, and to participate in decision-making processes.
The Executive Director said they would also be offered the necessary support to be able to access the three per cent of the District Assembly Common Fund, free National Health Insurance Scheme and LEAP.
Mr Asong said VOICE Ghana and its partners would also use the project to raise awareness on the devastating effect of the novel coronavirus and encourage both direct and indirect beneficiaries to observe the safety protocols and avail themselves to inoculate when the time was due for the general vaccination exercise.