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Participants drawn from 7 disability organisations, including two mental health groups in Greater Accra and the Western regions have benefitted from an education session on the current issues on COVID-19 and the services available to persons with disabilities and how to access those services.

The session which was organised by Hope for Future Generations and the PsykForum took place at the Sunlodge Hotel Accra on 21st May 2021 and the Aya Community Centre, Ellembelle in the Western Region as part of a one year project titled Help for Helpers+ psychosocial support for health workers and persons with disabilities including mental health conditions under the Ghana Somubi Dwumadie.

The goal of the project is to provide psychosocial support to health workers and people with lived experiences of disabilities including mental health conditions in the Greater Accra and Western Regions during the COVID-19 outbreak in Ghana.

Participants were taken through COVID-19 education where issues on prevention, treatments and myths were discussed extensively. Participants were encouraged to support the campaign on vaccination exercises on-going in the country and ensure their members have information and take the vaccination.

The facilities and services available to persons with disabilities as stipulated in the Disability Act were also discussed and participants were encouraged to take advantage of such provisions made for them. While very grateful about the education on what the Law said, some of the participants lamented that they were yet to experience the reality of such provisions.

A stakeholder engagement was held with representatives from Social Welfare departments, Health Facilities and Municipal Health Directorates Participants shared their experiences in adhering to the COVID-19 protocols and challenges in accessing health care services.  Participants shared some of their experiences with the stakeholders. A key feedback from the engagement was the fact that most of the participants and other persons with disabilities were missed during the distribution of relief items to vulnerable groups during the COVID partial lockdown. Some also suggest that persons with disabilities including mental health conditions should be given priority in the vaccination exercise. A participant praised Hope for Future Generations for ‘bringing persons with disabilities together to engage and discuss the impact of the pandemic on people with disabilities including mental health conditions  and what needs to be done moving forward

The Help for Helpers+ psychosocial support for frontline health workers and persons with mental disabilities is a one year project being implemented by HFFG and the PsykForum with funding from The Ghana Somubi Dwumadie.

The goal of the project is to provide psychosocial support to health workers and people with lived experiences of disabilities in the Greater Accra and Western Regions during the COVID-19 outbreak in Ghana. In the Greater Accra Region, the project is run in four (4) districts namely: La Dade Kotopon, Korle Klottey, Ayawaso West and Ga East Municipalities. Ellembelle and Secondi Takoradi make up the districts in the Western Region.

Project Outcomes:

  • Reduced COVID-19 related work stress among health workers
  • Increased access to health care among people with disabilities, including people with mental health conditions
  • Reduced stigma and discrimination at the health facilities among people with COVID-19

By the end of the project’s first quarter (October – January) , 139 frontline health workers were provided with psychoeducation. Psychoeducation is a systematic, and structured didactic knowledge transfer on mental health/illness and how to cope and thrive in spite of the condition. For this particular exercise there was psychoeducation on the different dynamics of covid-19 such as the economic, social, political and mental health implications and how to cope.

It further educated participants on mental health through the life-span and the potential challenges that can develop if one’s mental health is not taken seriously. For frontline workers it is particularly important since some have suffered social stigma, extreme stress and personal grief during covid-19 especially as a result of providing covid-19 related service and or contracting COVID in the process of providing service.

Considering the overall importance of the intervention, the Head of the Ghana Ambulance Service signed a total of 87 emergency medical technicians, paramedics to be provided with Psycho education. Similarly, 52 health workers were also trained at the Police Hospital for the same reason.

Hope for Future Generations (HFFG) and The PsyKForum have, in consortium, secured a project with the Ghana Somubi Dwumadie to provide psychosocial support for health workers and Persons with Mental Disability during this COVID-19 period. The Grantor of the project is Options Consultancy services.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first reported by the World Health Organization late December, 2019, and since then thousands and even millions of people have been infected, with high deaths recorded in many countries. Nations put in a lot of emergency measures to curtail the spread of the disease including risk communication, surveillance, contact tracing and providing targeted medical services. Some nations had to lock down to avoid further infections and to control the disease. With many unknown facts about transmission, except through droplets, many efforts focused on social and physical distancing.

Ghana recorded its first two cases of coronavirus on the 12th of March, 2020, and by 15th December, 2020, Ghana had recorded 53,270 cases. The results of a survey done in selected suburbs in Accra showed that many people do not wear face/nose masks correctly in public. With the way COVID-19 spreads, Government and the people of Ghana need to strengthen response and observe all the protocols needed to keep infections low or eradicate it.

Why the Focus on Persons with Disability and Health Workers?

People with Disabilities (PWDs) can be termed as vulnerable and are usually not able to access health information with the ease that others do. Some PWDs have mobility problems while others have hearing or visual impairments, hence are not able to take advantage of the availability of information with the ease that others do. Persons with Mental Disability are often not targeted for medical interventions to enable them access information and medical services with ease. COVID-19 produces its own stress factors which can worsen already existing mental stress and hence there is the need to focus on providing services to mitigate this effect.

Health workers are front liners for the fight against COVID-19. They support surveillance activities and provide medical care in various capacities at the various designated hospitals in the country. The fear of COVID-19, the anxiety of providing care for a COVID-19 patient and increased work load, have the possibility of triggering mental health issues.

The main objectives of the project are:

  • To establish an accessible and friendly psychosocial support for 500 health workers and their families on COVID-19 related work stress in the Greater Accra and Western regions.
  • To improve access to health care of people with disability in the greater Accra and Western regions in this COVID-19 era through sensitization of their needs among 500 health workers.
  • To reduce stigma and discrimination at health facilities towards people with COVID-19 in the Greater Accra and Western regions including people living with disability.

The project districts/sub districts include Klottey Korle, Ga East, Ayawaso West, and Ledzorkuku-Krowor in the Greater Accra Region; Sekondi-Takoradi and Ellembelle in the Western Region.

The selected hospitals are Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Police Hospital, University of Ghana Medical Centre, LEKMA Hospital and Ga East Municipal Hospital, all in the Greater Accra Region; and Effia Nkwanta Government Hospital and St Martins De Pores Hospital in the Western Region.

Hope for Future Generations is happy to partner with The PsyKForum and Ghana Somubi Dwumadie in delivering this needed intervention. It is hoped that through the Ghana Somubi Dwumadie support, help will go to helpers and Persons with Mental Disability will be supported to seek medical care and information.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a serious negative impact on the most vulnerable communities worldwide and threatens progress on HIV, TB, malaria and all areas of health. To this end, Hope For Future Generations, a member of the Global Fund Advocacy Network in Africa (GFAN Africa) is leading the GFAN Africa #TheBeatContinues campaign in Ghana.

This campaign is in line with the Global Fund’s unite to fight campaign which seeks to defeat COVID-19 and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria.

The key messages for the campaign are:

To defeat COVID-19 and safeguard the critical fight against HIV, TB & malaria, additional domestic and international funding is needed.

To defeat COVID-19, the response must address gender barriers, stigma & discrimination, and protect human rights.

To defeat COVID-19, protect progress against HIV, TB and malaria, and save lives, we must unite to fight.