Senin, 19 Desember 2011


Story: Zainabu Issah

Proper management of labour by skilled personnel using a partograph, is key to the appropriate prevention and treatment of prolonged labour and its complications. A partograph is a simple chart for recording information about the progress of labour and the condition of a woman and her baby during labour.

Following the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Maternal and Neonatal Health (MNH) Programme promotes the use of the partograph to improve the management of labour and to support decision-making regarding interventions. When used appropriately, the partograph helps providers identify prolonged labour and know when to take appropriate actions.

Prolonged labour is a leading cause of death among mothers and new-borns and it is most likely to occur if a woman’s uterus does not contract sufficiently due to various factors. If her labour does not progress normally, the woman may experience serious complications such as obstructed labour, dehydration, exhaustion, or rupture of the uterus. Prolonged labour may also contribute to maternal infection or haemorrhage and may also cause neonatal infection.

Speaking at the second in a series of Nana Yaa Memorial Trust seminars for registered midwives from the various health services in the Greater Accra Region in Accra, health experts called for the efficient use of the partograph as a step in reducing child and maternal mortality.

The seminar was aimed at promoting quality reproductive health by encouraging health workers to use life-saving interventions to reduce the high maternal mortality rates in Ghana.

Speaking at the seminar, Dr Nelson Damale, a consultant obstetrician at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, said the yearly updates and the reshuffling of midwives posed a challenge to the use of the partograph as new midwives had to learn how to use the tool for successful delivery.

He said the annual delivery peaks experienced in April, May and September also posed a challenge as the increase in the workload did not allow for the quality monitoring of patients.

He explained that the latent phase of labour required quality and intensive monitoring for early detection and intervention but the workload at the various health facilities and the number of midwives available, made this impossible.

He said the partograph was an easy, simple tool to use in effective monitoring of labour but there was the need to promote its use and also find practical solutions to challenges militating against its use.

In her presentation, Dr Jemima Dennis-Antwi, Regional Advisor, International Conference of Midwives (ICM) for Anglophone Africa, said the safety of the mother and child during delivery depended on midwives and therefore it was important for midwives to apply all knowledge and tools for a safe and successful delivery.

She said children born in a country with sufficient and competently trained midwives, nurses and doctors were five times likely to reach the age of five than those born in countries where such facilities and personnel were lacking.

She therfore urged the midwives to overcome the obstacles that faced them and do well in providing the care they offered to pregnant women and their unborn babies.

As part of its ongoing advocacy programmes, the Nana Yaa Memorial Trust is holding seminars to sensitise the public, especially pregnant women and their families to the importance of skilled delivery and the need for expectant mothers to deliver at a health facility so that emergency measures could be put in place for the efficient management of any complication,


Instil discipline, responsibility in children’

Story : Zainabu Issah

Parents have been urged to instil discipline and a sense of responsibility in children for them to grow and become responsible citizens.

Mrs Mary Quaye, a Director at the Ministry of Education, who made the statement when she deputised for the sector Minister, Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu, at this year’s Universal Children’s Day celebrations in Accra, said ensuring that children cultivate the habit of responsibility, encouraged them to look towards the future with brighter hopes and also lived responsible lives.

She said encouraging children to cultivate an attitude of responsibility would help them focus on their education and the future as a whole.

She said the education sector controlled over seven million children, hence the need not to neglect them, and therefore urged parents to help the education sector in shaping the lives of the children for the development of the country.

She also called on children to stay away from bad influence and live morally upright lives to develop their intellectual capabilities.

The Chief Executive Officer of Emerald Productions, organisers of the programme, Madam Irene Larwia Zakpaa, said children had the capabilities of achieveing great things when they grew up in the right conditions, with food, clothing and water for a healthy life, with equal opportunities to learn, and with freedom from the threats of violence and exploitation.

“ Children are our future. To survive and thrive, children need guidance, education, the chance to develop their abilities in order to take full advantage of their potentials. They need to be healthy and they need safety and security,” she added.

She therefore called for planned and sustained efforts for the realisation of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly those that related to improving access to primary education, reducing child mortality, and improving health systems.

The occasion brought together children from various parts of the region who engaged in sporting activities such as lime and spoon racing, volleyball, football, basketball, athletics, among others.

Universal Children’s Day is celebrated on November 20 every year, to promote International togetherness and awareness among children and to also promote the welfare of children around the globe.

November, 20 is also a special day because the 'Declaration of the rights of the children' was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1959 and later in 1989, the Convention of the Rights of the Child was also adopted, to serve as important tools for promoting the rights of children all over the world.

Still, there are few countries like Australia and India which choose different dates every year to celebrate Universal Children's Day. This day is not only special for children, but also special for parents as they try to spend most of the time on this day with their children either at home or going on field trips, sight seeing or attending a special musical event.


Story: Zainabu Issah

THE death of a woman or her child during childbirth is a devastating loss to the couple, the family and the society as a whole. The World Health Organisation (WHO) global maternity mortality figures show that 1000 women die from preventable causes related to childbirth every day. To put into perspective, one woman dies in childbirth every 84 seconds.

The figures for new-born children are worse. According to the WHO, over 2.6 million babies suffer still birth every year, which means that 7,200 babies die during childbirth in a day, five babies every minute, or a baby every 11 seconds. Whilst maternal mortality gets a lot of international attention, deaths of children during childbirth is not.

Additionally, 2.6 million children die during childbirth from causes that include complications during childbirth, maternal infections in pregnancy, including malaria and maternal disorders, especially hypertension and diabetes.

An Obstetrician Gynaecologist at the Resolve Medical Centre, Dr Padi Ayitey, announced this at the opening ceremony of the Gravidanza second pregnancy seminar in Accra.

The three-day exhibition and seminar brought together midwives, new parents, pregnant women and their spouses to be educated and provided with critical skills to help reduce the maternal and infant mortality rate in the country.

He added that around 1.2 million stillbirths occurred during labour and birth, and most of these babies could be saved through access to quality care at birth.

“The most effective way to reduce mortality is to strengthen the health system, starting with skilled care at birth and emergency obstetric care. Emergency care alone could save almost 700,000 babies, whilst treating for syphilis could save almost 140,000 babies,” he said.

He, however, called for more attention from health authorities and the government towards addressing the causes of stillbirth to be able to reach the MDG5 target, which relates to improving maternal health.

“Ensuring good obstetric care at birth is a top priority and gives a triple return on investment, saving pregnant women, neonates and stillbirths,” he explained.

Dr Ayitey added that one of the best ways in reducing maternal and perinatal mortality was to train medical professionals in the latest techniques that saved lives, and also educated the pregnant women and new mothers on the warning signs that could lead to complications in pregnancy.

He said this would help in treating emergency cases thoroughly as information provided would help in treatment and would also reduce the task of checking medical records of patients before treating them.

Topics discussed at the seminar included “The Impact of Obstetric Care and Neonatal Outcome” ; “Hands on Training in Neonatal Resuscitation”; “Effective Neonatal Resuscitation”; “How to Prevent the Top Two Maternal and Neonatal Killers: Haemorrhage and Eclampsia”; and “Providing Good Obstetric Care To Get Good Neonatal Outcome”.


DV ACT (W&c)

Story : Zainabu Issah

THE Domestic Violence Act (DVA) was passed by Parliament on February 21, 2007 as a positive step to confront the issue of various forms of violence against women and girls, especially in the domestic setting.

The law is also meant to offer a holistic and effective legal framework for addressing domestic violence in Ghana, provide broad redress for cases of domestic violence, sanction perpetrators and provide protective remedy for victims in order to improve Ghana’s compliance with its legal obligations under international human rights standards.

It also contains provisions that criminalise various acts of violence, such as physical and sexual assault within or outside marriage and between individuals in a domestic relationship, including family and non-family members, such as house helps and people who do not physically live together. It also criminalises economic and psychological abuse, intimidation and harassment and makes provision for protection orders, psychological and rehabilitative services for victims or perpetrators and processes for promotion of reconciliation.

To step up education on the need to curb domestic violence, ActionAid Ghana, in commemorating this year’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence in Ghana, staged a play in Accra to demonstrate how violence in the home affects the lives of families, especially the children.

The play, entitled,”Down Memory Lane In The Fight Against Domestic Violence”, was also to offer an interactive platform for discussions on issues that constitute domestic violence and how to prevent and report such cases.

The Women’s Right and Policy Advisor of ActionAid Ghana, Ms Selina Owusu, stressed the need for the passage of the Legislative Instrument (LI) to operationalise and implement the DVA.

She also called on the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC) and the Attorney-General’s Department to work closely together for the passage of the instrument.

“We are not oblivious of the fact that many laws in Ghana lack the institutional framework to fully implement them because of the lack of finance and other resources. We would, therefore, like to add that when the LI is passed, adequate financial resources, as well as the needed infrastructure, should be made available for the effective implementation of the law,” she explained.

Ms Owusu made reference to the 2012 national budget and said it did not make specific allocations for the provision of the needed infrastructure as provided in the law, adding, “ We think this is an anomaly that should be corrected immediately, so that when the LI is finally passed, resources will be available for its full operationalisation.”

She called for more support from organisations to build offices of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) in the rural areas and also equip those offices with human and material resources, so that victims can easily access the offices.


Story: Zainabu Issah

THE importance of Millennium Development Goal 3 (MDG 3), that relates to “Promoting Gender Equality and Empower Women”, by encouraging women’s equal participation in public governance as a fundamental right, cannot be over emphasised. In the words of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, “the MDGs encapsulate the development aspirations of the world as a whole, and they are not only development objectives; they encompass universally accepted human values and rights such as freedom from hunger, the right to basic education, the right to health and a responsibility to future generations”.

In line with this global recognition, Ghana continues to address obstacles that hinder women’s access to public office through policies and in practical terms.

Admittedly, while dramatic changes and achievements have not been realised, some significant progress in women’s rights generally, has been made.

At the global level, Ghana took part in the Vienna Conference of 1993, which had the slogan “Human Rights Also Includes Women’s Rights”. Ghana is also a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979, (CEDAW).

This Convention requires signatory states to “take in all fields, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, appropriate measures, including legislation to ensure the full development and advancement of women”. Ghana has also participated in several international conferences including the famous Beijing Conference in 1995.

The 1992 Constitution of Ghana also guarantees women’s rights to promote their chances of competing with men in public office. Article 17 of the Constitution prohibits any form of discrimination on the basis of gender or sex. Article 27 (3) states that: “Women shall be granted equal rights to training and promotion without any impediments of any person’. These provisions are in line with that of CEDAW.

Article 36 (6) under the Directive Principles of State policy, also calls on the state to “afford equality of economic opportunity to all citizens and in particular, all necessary steps so as to ensure the full integration of women into the mainstream of the economic development of Ghana”. This is further reinforced by the need to “achieve reasonable regional and gender balance in recruitment and appointments to public offices”.

In spite of these, the representation of women in public offices, show a wide gender and this remains a major barrier, if not threat, to Ghana’s efforts at meeting national development goals and the MDGs.

For example, Ghanaian women were absent from the Legislative Assembly of 1957. The situation improved in 1960 when 10 women were elected by a special ballot to the National Assembly and this was done under the Representation of the People (Women Members) Act No 8 of 1960. The situation has not changed much since then and Ghana currently has only 19 female Members of Parliament (MP) out of 230-member legislature.

In support of efforts to encourage women to participate fully in decision-making so as to improve the representation of women in parliament and public offices, the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) organised the Gender Day Celebration as part of its Human Right and Integrity Week.

Speaking on the theme: “Women Representation in Politics”, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Ms Lauretta Vivian Lamptey said the Commission will continue to play its critical role as human right promoters to pursue a vigorous campaign to create awareness, raise consciousness, lobby and if need be, move mountains to secure greater gender justice for women.

She revealed that the Commission has plans to embark on a vigorous gender equality mainstreaming campaign with special emphasis on the need to get more women elected and appointed into public office.

The Rector of The Law Institute, Madam Hilary Gbedemah who spoke on the mechanisms for promoting women’s presentation in Parliament said there was the need for the demands of democracy to be balanced.

She said women’s equal participation in decision making was not only a demand for simple justice or democracy but also a necessary condition for women’s interests to be taken into account.

She explained further that without the active participation of women and the incorporation of women’s perspective at all levels of decision making; the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved.

She also called on women to bring on board alternative development paradigms such as a focus in health, child care, and water resources especially at the local governance level.

“Women’s participation can improve delivery of social services and the relationship between government and local communities,” she said.

She however called on the government to implement its policy of promoting gender equity in the country.

The Vice Chairperson of the Women’s Caucus in Parliament, Madam Gifty Ohene Konadu, who spoke on the barriers of women’s participation in Parliament, said Ghana has no laws that directly or indirectly prevent women from participating in politics but the numbers of women participating in politics continue to be low and this means that they have not been fully integrated into national development.

She added that the whole notion is that the public sector is supposed to be managed by the men and the private sector by the women. This is theory undermines institutional and political culture.

“This conception has affected Ghana and has created a diverged vision of society which then see formal politics as a domain for men and gossip politics as a female domain”, she said.

In view of this notion held by society, it is important to understand the gendered nature of societal relationships in order to appreciate the need for improved ways to enhance women’s participation in politics, Madam Konadu explained.

She however encouraged women to develop their potentials and contribute substantially to the socio-economic development of their communities.

She also said for women to make substantial contributions to national development efforts, they should have sound background and training.

Additionally, more avenues for income generating activities should be created for women to enable them be financially self-reliant.

She concluded that the development of the community was the responsibility of all ( women and men) irrespective of their political affiliations and was therefore necessary to get both sexes together to have a meaningful society that would be beneficial to all.

Madam Charity Binka from the Gender Department of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) also urged the media to do well in promoting and raising awareness of the importance of women in national development.

She also challenged the government to set up a committee to train Journalists to become gender sensitive in the reportage of gender issues.


Story: Zainabu Issah

In line with efforts to encourage women to take leadership roles, a number of women in leadership positions have come together to dialogue on issues and choices relevant to the lives and careers of young professionals.

Dubbed “Mentoring Walk”, mentees are exposed to the various aspects of the lives of women in leadership, business, politics and in society. They also spend a number of working days with their mentors, understudying them at work. In addition to this, group networking sessions are held to give mentors and mentees an opportunity to assess the programme for themselves and also give feedback and affirmation to what they have achieved through the mentorship.

Speaking at the launch of the Mentoring Walk in Accra, Madam Brigitte Dzogbenuku, the founder of the programme, said women, especially in developing countries, must recognise the need to play their roles in the development of their countries.

“We need to stand and make our voices heard, claim our space and not only a few of us but a movement who will support other women in leadership,” she stressed.

She added that fostering mentoring relationships would promote women’s leadership and participation by providing aspiring women professionals with the support and guidance they needed to be successful.

Additionally, to ensure the continuous dialogue between the mentor and the mentee, a monthly forum conversations is provided to encourage the discussion of issues pertinent to women rights and empowerment.

Madam Dzogbenuku added that the forum also showcases women in various leadership positions whose lives are worthy of emulation.

She encouraged young women to apply to participate in the programme in order to discuss issues regarding professional challenges and successes in order to guide, advise and support each other as peers and as women, and impact on the lives of people in their communities.


Story: Zainabu Issah

The Ministry of Energy has pledged to collaborate with the Gender and Energy Network to organise capacity-building workshops in support of efforts to mainstream gender concerns into energy projects in the country.

The programme is aimed at building greater awareness among governments and the international community about the importance of gender issues in energy planning and policies, to empower women to discharge responsibilities assigned to them as custodians of energy resources.

The Chief Director of the Ministry of Energy, Professor Thomas Akabzaa, stated this in a speech read on his behalf at a workshop on gender audit survey report on the energy sector in the country organised by ENERGIA, an International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy Network.

Prof Akabzaa said women are capable of making changes for the better if they are given the necessary empowerment.

“It will be in the interest of Africa if the education of women is taken seriously and pursued to the fullest since women are much more associated with the primary use of fuel in Africa,” he said.

He said although Africa is rich in energy resources that can be exploited in a sustainable manner for the benefit of its people, it is saddled with the high rate of illiteracy, especially among women in the rural areas.

“ Introducing women to renewable sources of energy and educating them on the use of renewable sources of fuel would go a long way to ensure sustainable energy in Africa,” he explained.

He also said one of the objectives of the ministry is to increase access to modern energy services in rural communities to improve the living standards of the poor majority, who are women.

“The rural electrification programme, petroleum distribution improvement programme, the renewable energy development programme, among others, are efforts of the ministry to reduce the burden of women,” he added.

Prof. Akabazaa, however, called for collaboration which would include the manufacturing of ancillary components for renewable energy systems to create jobs and alleviate poverty.

The Director for Public Investment Division of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Mrs Magdaline Apenteng, who was the chairperson for the workshop, said undertaking the gender audit report was important in establishing the quantity and quality of best use of available energy to establish its efficency and effectiveness of activities which impact the lives of users.

She added that both males and females were equal stakeholders in the use of energy but benefit differently, leading to different social and economic outcomes.

She was however optimistic that the key recommendations from the audit report and future ones would lead to the identification of gender-related gaps and issues and thus provide the basis for the more detailed action plan for gender desk activities within the various entities.

She also called for the report to be replicated in several ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including the Ministries of Finance and Women and Children’s Affairs.

The Ghana Network Coordinator for ENERGIA Africa, Dr Sabina Anokye Mensah, in her address said although women spent long hours everyday collecting fuel wood, agricultural residues and dung,70 per cent of the world’s poor are women.

She explained further that the audit would help identify gaps in energy policies, make gender and energy issues visible to wide audience and also identify linkages between gender and energy in sustainable development.

She said this would help promote gender planning, awareness and mainstreaming in energy-related organisations to develop long-term gender-sensitive polices and programmes and also help people to understand the role of women in the informal sector and their contribution to the economy.

“The potential benefits arising form the use of modern energy technologies in this sector cannot be overlooked,”she added.

Dr Mensah reveled that some past audit findings showed that females mostly involved in fuel collection in rural villages spend hours a day on the average and the commercial biomass activities such as charcoal and fuelwood trading were activities engaged in by males.


Story: Zainabu Issah

THE report of a Juvenile Justice Project launched by three child rights organisations have established that children in conflict with the law mostly come from broken homes or environments where both parents are not living together.

The project was launched by Plan Ghana International, in partnership with Child Right International (CRI) and Grenada National Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC), with funding from the European Union, as a step to prevent and combat all forms of violence against children or youth in Justice Institutions or those who are in conflict with the law.

Presenting a summary of the current situation of juvenile justice in Ghana, Madam Susan Sabaa from the Child Research and Resource Centre disclosed that between July 2007 and June 2008, there were 647 juvenile cases pending, with 551 newly filed cases and 544 cases completed.

She said between the period of 2008, 2009 and January to June, 2010, juvenile offenders spent between one to eight weeks in custody at the various police stations and nearly 24 months in remanded homes before trial and pointed out that admissions to juvenile centres saw marginal increase from 51 in 2008 to 58 in 2009 and the discharged cases decreased from 289 in 2008 to 251 in 2009.

Inmates covered in the survey were made up of 92 per cent males and 8 per cent females, with the age distribution of the males ranging from 16 to 18 years and that of the females ranging from 12 to 15 years.

The research further stated that the educational status of inmates at the time of their arrest was mainly from primary institutions (80.3 per cent) whereas 11.5 per cent have never been in school, with 4.9 per cent having junior high school (JHS) background, and 3.3 per cent with senior high school background. However, 54.4 per cent of the children indicated they could read and write in English while 45.6 per cent could neither read nor write in English.

According to the report, 73.4 per cent of the child respondents indicated that none of their parents, relations, guardian, social worker, or lawyer was present when their statements were being taken by the police.

The study established that the major difficulty in Accra was that most of the young offenders were homeless and that made it very difficult to trace their parents as they were also unwilling to disclose their real identity and where their families come from for fear of stigmatisation.

The research also spelt out the experiences that the juvenile offenders went through during their detention period in the police cells such as being asked to sleep in the toilet by the police or adult inmates, being beaten, insulted and asked to lie down on the floor during the night.

They were also sometimes beaten by the police, which resulted in abrasions on the children, and food brought to them were eaten by the adult inmates. Some of them are also handcuffed overnight in police cells for days or asked to sit down and not lie down in the night and at other times too, they were asked to pay cell fees.

Criminal activities which lead children to the juvenile centres constitute 42 per cent stealing, 24 per cent defilement, 5 per cent robbery, 8 per cent assault, 10 per cent rape, 3 per cent drugs, 5 per cent unlawful entry and 3 per cent prostitution.

Though a larger proportion said they could express themselves freely, 20.3 per cent said they felt intimidated and therefore could not speak freely. Some 23.4 per cent indicated that some statements made in courts were attributed to them, which they never made. Also 21.9 per cent were able to raise objections to such statements attributed to them and which they disagreed with. Others (64.1 per cent) said they understood the sentencing read in courts to them and 39.1 per cent indicated they had no idea of the number of years of sentence handed to them in courts.

Analysing the status of cases, the survey further revealed that 52 per cent of juvenile respondents were on remand while 47.9 per cent were sentenced to various years in the correctional centres and also periodic medical attention was given to the inmates but only about 40.6 per cent received the service.

The respondents also complained bitterly about their sleeping conditions and said their bodies itched because there are no bed sheets and the cells were small. While some slept on the bare floor, others slept on cardboards spread on the floor without mattresses, bed sheets and mosquito nets.

Almost all the respondents, constituting 99 per cent, said they did not enjoy the food served in the remand home and indicated that they would prefer philanthropists to bring them cooked food and not uncooked food items because the food items usually did not get to them.

The Government provides 60 pesewas a day per inmate for feeding three times a day. Growing adolescent boys need enough nutritious food for their development and inadequate food intake affects their growth physically, emotionally and mentally.

The report said the convenience and freedoms of the juvenile offenders within the centres were severely compromised due to poor infrastructure and lack of logistics. Boys are made to eat dinner at 4:00 p.m. because wardens fear some will abscond under the cover of darkness.

The most common punishment in the homes is being beaten by officers and wardens. Other forms of punishment range from being isolated from all the other inmates and locked up in a dark cell that smells badly and is full of mosquitoes, to weeding and painful physical exercise.

On the issue of visit, some of them indicated that since they were sentenced, they had never been visited. Some said they had never been in touch with their families and others had not heard from their family members since they were placed in the correctional institutions.

The report also established that was no structured system for the expression of views or complaints and between four to 30 inmates were discharged yearly with no special preparation made for them. Reintegration and after care programme are not pursued due to lack of logistics and funds.

Madam Susan Sabaa in her recommendations called for more monitoring at the juvenile centres, which are crowded, to see to it that adult inmates did not bully the younger ones.

She also called for an increase in the budget by the government to be directed to the reconstruction of juvenile centres in order to have more space for the inmates.

She, however ,called on police offers and wardens in the centres to do well in training and reforming the inmates rather than resorting to beating and other forms of punishment which rather make them more vulnerable to other crimes when they are released from the homes.

“They have come to be reformed in the homes, so if you resort to violence, they would get use to it and when they come out, they would do worse things than what brought them to the home,” she said

She also revealed that even though the children were there to be corrected, some ex-inmates from the centres revealed that other forms of illegal activities such as smoking of marijuana were done in the institutions because they were allegedly sold to them in the correction centres.

The Assistant Director of the Department of Social Welfare (DSW), Ms Victoria K Natsu, called for the implementation of the child right protection laws in the correctional institutions so that when they were arrested, the focus would be on the correction and reformation of the children.

She said currently there was only one psychologist at the 37 military Hospital in charge of handling the psychological trauma of the children after their encounter in the correctional institutions, saying that was not good enough.

The Country Director of Plan Ghana International, Mr Prem Shukla announced the establishment of a Child Help Line System through a collaborative effort with the National Communications Authority for children across the country to report all forms of violence and abuse to the appropriate authorities.

He said the system would come out with a toll free number which will be made known to the public and to all children for them to call for help in the event of any form of violence or abuse.

He, however, called on the media to help in raising the awareness of child abuse and violence for the public to report all forms of violence and abuse affecting children across the country.