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Sex For Fees! #SRHR

This Thursday 12 March 2015, we are talking Sexual Reproductive Health on the Maternal Health Channel Television Series…. With focus on “Transactional Sex” aka “Survival Sex” or “Sex in exchange for Financial or Lifestyle rewards”

Is it really happening? Can we openly talk about it? What about its implications for Health, Population & Development?

SEXOLOGY 1

Many young people face serious pressure, especially adolescent girls to exchange sex for money, in many cases, to pay for education or survive in a tough economic environment. The Maternal Health Channel crew visited a university campus, they bring you a real life drama that may be familiar to many of us.

Joyce needs money to pay her fees but is selling her body the only option? What are her alternatives? How does she deal with peer pressure? Make time for the show this Thursday 12 March 2015 and every other Thursday on GTV at 8 pm….. and follow the discussions!

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Mental Health: Getting It Right!

Me: “Hello Bra Odartey”

Bra Odartey: “Hello Ato, t3 Oy)) t33n?” (Hello Ato, how are you)

Me: “Ofaine e y3 jogbaan” (I am doing fine)

Friend: “Did you just do that”

Me: “Do what” *wondering *

Friend: “Greet a mad man”

Me: *smile* “He isn’t mad, he only has a mental health problem, that’s all, and if we keep treating and tagging him a ‘mad man’ we will end up having him as one”.

Few days on I spotted an “Information about mental health” booklet by “The Kintampo Project” at the UNICEF Ghana Country Office, it brought back fond memories, when Mind Freedom Ghana engaged media professionals in a two day training workshop to ensure we were well built to capacity in spreading the word. Indeed many people find mental health puzzling and misunderstand the issue, it’s not just a Ghana thing, all across the globe- people who have little or no knowledge on the matter are likely to stigmatize and treat people with mental disorders badly.

According to information gathered, good mental health is when one can think clearly, solve problems, enjoy happy relationships and feel spiritually at ease. A mental illness or ‘mental disorder’ or ‘psychological disorder’ is when one behaves abnormally and one or others are upset by the behavior. When one is mentally ill, he/she changes and it’s often strange and hard to understand. Kindly note that schizophrenia, severe depression, manic depression, dementia, alcoholism, serious drug abuse, bad anxiety all qualify for mental illness- yes they do!

mental health

Mental illness, which is very common is mostly caused by chemical imbalances in the brain which can be due to: using illegal drugs such as cannabis, amphetamine, cocaine, heroin etc. also drinking much alcohol, serious head injuries can cause mental illness, serious head injuries and any big stress. So there is no known exact cause and nature of people’s mental illness is often unclear. I know few people who have recovered from a mental disorder- I can relate, it can be upsetting, common to be ashamed, angry, and at times guilty and frightened. Talking about the problem and taking needed steps can help ameliorate the situation and stay better.

If you are thinking metal health is infectious, you got that wrong- it’s no cough or flu. Again, everyone can be affected- children, men, youth, and women.  But we need to have access to good mental health services, we might need them one day! Truth is, most people with mental illness can be helped, and my friend and mental health professional Mr. Odonkor (Kobby Blay) demonstrated it.

How can you keep yourself mentally healthy?

  • Eat healthy diet and don’t drink too much alcohol: it can protect you from feeling anxious and depressed.
  • Do you smoke weed? It causes schizophrenia.
  • Nothing does the trick like a good night sleep, it helps you feel better, improves memory and gets mind and body in shape and strong next day.
  • Get a good laugh: it’s good for your mind and soul.
  • Crying, lols- yes, you might feel terrible at the time but one feels better afterwards.
  • Situation gets worse if you leave them, speak to someone worth trusting, family, friend or a professional.
  • Make time for yourself and things you want to do and enjoy doing.
  • Keep your relationships healthy: it makes you feel better so look after them.
  • Exercise: it’s good for the heart and blood pressure.

If you want to support other people with mental illness, you can. How?

  • Remember that mental illness is treatable and nobody’s fault.
  • Let’s not shout at, criticize, threaten or stigmatize people with mental illness- it only worsens their plight or make them violent. Mental illness can’t be caught by touching someone who is mentally ill or sharing their food.
  • We must keep our friends, be there to listen and talk to friends who are down and need us- they might help us when we need them too.
  • Support the newly set Mental Health Board to implement the Mental Health Law.

“Dear Government,

           Mental health is an integral part of health- I agree, there is no health without mental health. Let’s ensure mental health workers are supported and encouraged to continue their good work. Thank you”.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2013 in Issues!

 

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Joint UN Human Security Conference Closes in Accra

“Human Security is a relatively new concept, which has emerged out of complex and cross cutting threats that affect survival, livelihood and dignity of human-beings. Human security addresses multi-dimensional aspects of life- through advocating and ensuring freedom from fear (peace), freedom from want (development) and freedom to live with dignity (human rights). It is a holistic and evolving approach which requires further knowledge and experience sharing. As a lot of efforts are being made in different locations from which we can learn, it is important to promote mutual learning for improving our understanding and actions towards human security”  – Organizers of the Human Security Conference 2013 in Ghana.

The United Nations in Ghana says its Joint Human Security Programme (HSP) with the Government of Ghana has contributed to changing lives of many residents in 19 partner communities in the three regions of Northern Ghana. It further states that though the programme is coming to an end this month – May 2013, it has left a lasting impact on many lives in that part of the country by addressing long-term challenges and promoting sustainable human security.

Launched in December 2009, the HSP sought to help create an enabling environment and empower local institutions, communities and individuals to manage and prevent conflict in most conflict sensitive areas in Northern Ghana – Bawku Municipality in the Upper East Region, Wa Municipality in the Upper West Region, Tamale Metropolis and Yendi Municipality in the Northern Region – as a means to ensuring sustainable human security. The programme supported the following interrelated five-prong interventions:

  1. Local Capacity development.
  2. Conflict prevention mechanisms.
  3. Income generation/Job creation.
  4. Food, health and nutrition security.
  5. Mainstreaming and advocating the human security concept.

The programme has been jointly implemented by six UN agencies, namely UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, FAO, UNIDO and UNU-INRA, in partnership with the Government of Ghana, civil society, academia, community members and other key stake holders. Funding for this programme has been made possible by the Japanese Government through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS).

As part of activities to mark the official closure of the programme and to provide a platform for sharing the outcomes of the HSP and exchanging innovative ideas among a wide range of stakeholders, an international conference was held on 22nd and 23rd May 2013 at the conference hall of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), University of Ghana, Legon- Accra.

The objectives of the conference were; To share the human security concept, approaches and practices applied in the HSP and progress/changes made in programme areas with a wide range of stakeholders; To facilitate mutual learning between HSP stakeholders- including the UN agencies, partner communities, local and national institutions and other non-programme stakeholders; To disseminate key knowledge from the learning process.

The two-day conference brought together participants from all works of life; stakeholders, researchers, practitioners, policy makers, media and other interested individuals- to share knowledge and experience in the area of human security from different perspectives. It is their hope that through mutual learning at the conference various forms of partnerships will be enhanced and together forge ways towards promoting human security in Ghana and across the globe. Certificates were awarded to the organizing team for their inputs in making the event a success.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Issues!

 

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Ghana Seizes 1 million faulty Condoms Imported from China

“Ghana facing ‘major public health issue’ after condoms supplied to health service found to contain                   holes and burst easily”

Condomize - Be Safe.

Condomize – Be Safe.

Ghana is facing a “major public health issue” after condoms supplied to the country’s health service were found to contain holes and burst easily. More than 1m “Be Safe” condoms have been impounded by the country’s food and drugs authority (FDA), which said they were also too small and not adequately lubricated.

“When we tested these condoms, we found that they are poor quality, can burst in the course of sexual activity, and have holes which expose the users to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease,” said Thomas Amedzro, head of drug enforcement at the FDA.

But the FDA said it was investigating how an unknown number of condoms had been distributed to health centres around the country, before the tests were conducted. “We want to get to the bottom of this, and to find out why all the condoms were not presented to us before they went out,” said Amedzro.

The FDA is recalling all Be Safe condoms on the market, and said it does not yet know how many have already been distributed. It is standard practice to conduct safety tests on condoms, many of which are imported from China.

The FDA said the faulty Be Safe consignment was imported by Global Unilink Ltd, a Ghanaian company, which had sourced them from an Indian company named Harley Ltd based in Kenya. Amedzro said the FDA has traced the condoms back to the original manufacturer, Henan Xibei Latex Company Limited, in Henan province, central China.

“This is a huge, huge problem,” said Faustina Fynn-Nyame, director of Marie Stopes International in Ghana. “There will be a lot of unintended pregnancies as a result of this, and that means maternal mortality and unsafe abortion. Commercial sex workers also use these products [so] the consequences could be enormous.”

The companies involved in importing the condoms were not available to comment. But Be Safe condoms are reported to be widely used in Ghana, where they are distributed by state-run health centres. Previous batches are understood to have passed safety tests.

This is not the first scare surrounding condoms in sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, South Africa recalled more than 1m faulty ANC condoms, which the ruling party had given away.

“This is a major public health issue because of the implications,” said Amedzro. “People use condoms to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. If the condoms are not doing that, we could have increased [risk] of HIV and Aids, so that is a major concern.”

SOURCE: TheGuardian.co.uk

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Issues!

 

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Government Ministers and UN, NGO Representatives from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and Middle East Focus on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls and Fulfilling Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

(March 7, New York) At a roundtable meeting on March 5 hosted by the High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD), Government Ministers, delegates to the 57thCommission on the Status of Women (CSW),  and representatives from UN agencies and non-governmental organizations—164 individuals representing 36 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East—shared recommendations for action around the event’s theme, Charting a Forward-Looking Agenda–Ending Violence Against Women and Girls and Fulfilling Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for All.

“At the very moment we are all gathered here, countless women and adolescent girls are being subjected to various of forms of violence in every country of the world–physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Every day, women and girls die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and from unsafe abortions. Every day, over 2,000 young people become infected with HIV.” This opening statement from Samuel Kissi of Ghana, the event’s facilitator and member of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, underscores the severity and scope of these inter-related problems. “These are not separate issues.  Violence against women and girls is a violation of sexual and reproductive health and rights.  The denial of these rights is itself a form of violence, coercion and control over women’s basic freedoms and equality.” He pointed participants to the Bali Youth Declaration adopted in December 2012, encapsulating the demands of young people, policy-makers and other stakeholders from around the world on these issues.

“Fourteen women and 170 newborns die every day,” reflected Enrique TayagPhilippines’ Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Social Welfare on the situation of women and girls in his country.  He referred to the historic adoption of the new Reproductive Health Law in 2012, which guarantees universal access to contraception, sexual education, and maternal care.  He noted that in the Philippines, “men are standing up against violence against women…they are part of the solution.”  Following on the theme of men’s roles, the UN Permanent Representative to the United Nations for DenmarkCarsten Staur, noted the various forms of sexual violence that women and girls face, calling for comprehensive sexuality education as a means to “make men understand that resorting to violence is not a solution.”

family-planning

“I don’t think we’ll go much further in ending violence against women unless we fight the root causes,” stated Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Women’s Affairs of France, reporting on her country’s commitments to ending violence against women. “We need to fight against those in the education system…We’re going to teach girls, and boys especially, the concept of equality. And we’re going to put in place sexuality education in high schools so that teenagers learn the respect and the right for the girl to say no.” She continued: “The ideal situation is to have an integrated approach in the area of reproductive and sexual rights,” with sexuality education linked to services as key to preventing unwanted pregnancy. “So for girls, contraceptive methods are fully reimbursed. Abortion is fully reimbursed because we believe that it’s never a comfortable choice for a woman and there’s no reason a woman should be subjected to a second burden, a financial one.”  Vallaud-Belkacem concluded, “We realize that anything that can be done to guarantee that a woman is truly free to choose what she does with her body, is a lever of equality between the sexes.  And also a factor and a lever to develop society.”

Karina RuizUruguay’s Director of the Division for Prevention and Elimination of Violence Against Women of the National Institute for Women, affirmed that her country is “on the road to putting in practice the commitments that were made in the international arena on human rights,” as she explained recent laws adopted in 2008 recognizing and protecting sexual and reproductive rights as human rights, and the new law of 2012 on voluntary pregnancy termination.  “This is part of our contribution to the norms and tools for full enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights, without any forms of discrimination.”

Fatma Sahin, Minister of Family and Social Policy in Turkey, also shared legal progress in her country to end impunity: “Violence against women, not only physical violence, but economic and psychological violence as well, has been redefined in a new version of the Turkish criminal code. We changed it in 2002 for the first time in 35 years…the main goal was to change penalties with regard to violence against women.” Sanctions were increased for the crime of honor killings as “such offenses had been considered a qualified manslaughter and previously were penalized with only two to five years in prison. Those penalties are now 25-30 years.”

As first discussant responding to the ministerial panel, Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate and Member of the High-Level Task Force for ICPD from Liberia shared the Task Force’s positions, echoing sentiments expressed by the government representatives and panel speakers.  She reinforced that it is “essential to reaffirm and protect sexual and reproductive rights as human rights in laws and policies.” This includes revoking “laws that pervert justice,” such as those that set rapists free when they marry their victims, or that let abusive husbands simply “go back home” only to repeat vicious cycles of abuse. Given how “horrific rape” is often used a tactic of war, she noted the Task Force is calling for sexual violence to be eliminated from amnesty provisions when peace plans are negotiated.

“The time has come,” Gbowee continued, “All women and girls subjected to violence must have prompt access to critical services and supports for their safety, health, housing, legal and other needs and rights…and here sexual and reproductive health programmes and services have an especially strategic role to play in supporting women and girls subjected to violence–including to address especially neglected forms of violence, such as abuse during pregnancy.” Such services must provide “access to quality post-rape care that includes emergency contraception, post-exposure prophylactic to prevent HIV, access to safe abortion for all survivors of rape and incest and diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.” Turning to the rights and empowerment of young people, in addition to the importance of comprehensive sexuality education, she highlighted the violence and risks girls face, including harmful practices and appealed for efforts to “eliminate early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation within a generation.”

Gbowee concluded by saying, “We must work to end the accountability deficit. We can create laws and policies, but if they are not enforced, implemented, adequately resourced and monitored for effectiveness, we will have failed.”

Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur for Violence against Women and its causes and consequences, reinforced the important role of the State, saying, “Violation of sexual and reproductive health and rights is often a result of direct state action—coercive population control, coerced sterilization of women and girls, especially in marginalized communities and women with disabilities, and criminal sanctions against all forms of abortion and contraception.” But she emphasized that state inaction also contributes to the violation of these rights by “failing to address structural systemic oppression of women and girls.”

As the final discussant, Dr. Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women focused on ongoing CSW negotiations: “What the CSW can include in their agreed conclusions, so we can ensure that when we are dealing with this awful issue of ending violence against women, we really include also the sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the access of women for all sexual and reproductive health services.” She noted that, “the international community recognizes that there can be no peace, no progress, no equality without women’s full and equal rights and participation,” and went on to say, “What amazes me is that we are discussing an issue that 20 years ago we defined as an international community…In Cairo we discussed the linkages between sexual and reproductive health, empowerment of women and sustainable development.  Here we are again 20 years later, trying to get agreement on these issues.”

 Echoing panelist Paavo Arhinmäki, Minister for Gender Equality Affairs of Finland, who had stated, “We believe that sexual and reproductive health and rights issues must be kept high on the international development agenda, including in discussions leading up to post 2015,” Dr. Bachelet said in her conclusion, “Women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health and ending violence against women are the missing MDGs for the post-2015 development agenda.”

Co-hosts for the event were the Governments of Argentina, Denmark, Finland, France, Turkey and the GlobalLeaders Council for Reproductive Health.

#  #  #

 The High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was established in September 2012 as an independent body to provide a bold, progressive voice for advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, especially for those living in poverty and otherwise marginalized, and to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and young people.  For more information, see http://www.icpdtaskforce.org.

Media Contact:  Geoffrey Knox: 212.229.0540gknox@geoffreyknox.com

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Issues!

 

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Sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Asukawkaw and Beyond!

Coca-Cola and The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) who are partners in the water and Development Alliance (WADA) along with their implementation partners WaterHealth Ghana and the Ghana WASH Project have commissioned three WaterHealth Centres (WHCs). 107 household toilets and three institutional latrines and three communities in the Northern part of Volta Region. The Communities are Dambai and Asukawkaw in the Krachi East District and Tapa Abotoase in the Biakoye district. The aim of the project is to help improve access to safe, clean drinking water and sanitation in the three communities.

WaterHealth Centre @ Asukawkaw

Access to safe, clean drinking water is provided through the WHCs. The WHCs treat locally available water through a combination of sedimentation, pre-filtration, and ultraviolent technology to produce clean water for the communities for a nominal fee. WaterHealth Ghana will sign a 10 year service contract with the communities to provide on-going operation, maintenance support and regular water quality monitoring.

In addition to the above, on school in each of the three communities has been provided with a KVIP latrine fitted with rain water harvesting system to provide clean water for hand washing to promote effective hygiene practices. To further enhance the Sanitation in the area, the partners are in final stages of building individual toilets for 107 households in the three communities.

Speaking at the official commissioning of the projects at Asukawkaw, Philippe Ayivor, the Public Affairs and Communications Director of Coca-Cola Equatorial Africa said that the Coca-Cola system and its partners are investing in building healthy, sustainable communities in Ghana by providing access to safe, clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, supplying healthcare equipment, supplies and medicines; and providing mosquito nets to assist in the prevention of malaria. Coca-Cola understands that for it to be successful over the long term, the communities in which it operates must be sustainable – sustainable economically, sustainable environmentally and with strong local support systems. He added that Coca-Cola is continuing to seek partnerships with like-minded organizations in Ghana in order to accelerate its efforts of supplementing the government’s efforts of providing access to safe, clean drinking water and sanitation facilities to communities throughout the country.

Present at the ceremony were the Deputy Hon. Volta Regional Minister, the respective District Chief Executives, Chiefs and Elders from the various communities as well as some officials from The Coca-Cola System, USAID, Ghana WASH and WaterHealth Ghana.

Unvieled WaterHealth Centre

Unvieled WaterHealth Centre

In Ghana, over 80 percent of the population is estimated to lack access to improved sanitation facilities, a significant cause of waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid. Ghana has made great strides in water access as the majority of population has clean water. However, in the peri-urban Communities, water and sanitation facilities have lacked adequate funding for operations and maintenance, thus inhibiting the realization of maximum health benefits. WADA is working to address these problems and to combat improper usage and poor maintenance of existing water and sanitation facilities.

WADA is a unique global partnership between The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) and USAID that addresses community water needs in developing countries around the world. In conjunction with local USAID Missions and Coca-Cola system partners (Foundations and bottling facilities), WADA contributes to protecting and improving the sustainability of watersheds, increasing access to water supply and sanitation services for the world’s poor and enhancing the productive use of water. With a combined investment of $30.8 million since 2005, WADA is having a positive impact on the lives of people and the health of ecosystems in 28 countries worldwide, 18 of which are in Africa. In Ghana, the partners include Coca-Cola Equatorial Africa, The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Ghana and USAID. By improving access to clean and safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and providing hygiene training, WADA will provide integrated solutions to Ghana’s water and sanitation challenges. Total funding for the WADA Ghana project is $1.5 million split equally between Coca-Cola and USAID.

For further Information,

Please contact: Lareiena Adjayi on 0242 701 259

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in Issues!

 

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