Baseline survey to capture range of opinions concerning discrimination against PWIDs in health facilities
The Inclusion Ghana Research Team continues to interview persons with intellectual disabilities (PWIDs), their parents/caregivers and health professionals on their range of opinions concerning discrimination against PWIDs. The results of the interviews will contribute towards obtaining health care rights for PWIDs. Already 4 districts including, Kwaebibirem, Upper Manya Krobo, Ho Municipal and La Nkwantanang Madina Districts have been covered in the survey been conducted. 2 more districts are outstanding to be covered in July 2013. The survey is being funded by STAR-Ghana. STAR-Ghana is a multi-donor pooled funding mechanism supported by DFID, DANIDA, EU and USAID to increase the influence of civil society organizations and parliament in the governance of public goods and services.
The reason for pursuing the outcome of obtaining health care rights for PWIDs is that earlier baseline conducted by Inclusion Ghana in 2011 on the level of stigmatisation and discrimination faced by Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (PWIDs) in Ghana showed that they are highly stigmatised and discriminated against within the health care delivery system. The baseline however did not capture opinions of the whys, how and when these discriminations occur. In addition to this, there is a lack of awareness of specific health needs more commonly experienced by PWIDs. Inclusion Ghana believes this may be due to PWIDs encountering staff who do not have the appropriate interpersonal skills and who are not aware of the Disability Law health provisions for such persons, limited capacity to provide quality services to PWIDs and possibly a majority of health care workers still believe that intellectual disability is the result of juju or wickedness and that by treating such a person, they themselves may become infected.
Inclusion Ghana represented by the National Co-ordinator facilitated two sessions on disability perspectives at the legal empowerment training for practitioners working with survivors of Gender based violence in Africa. The training was organised by Open Society in collaboration with Namati. Participants of the workshop were Paralegals drawn from different African Countries.
Cases involving victims or survivors with disabilities are always lost in the system, for a variety of reasons. The purpose of Inclusion Ghana's presentation was to help paralegals to walk away with an understanding of steps they could take to ensure these cases are not lost only because they do not know how to communicate with people with disabilities or are approaching the case based on misconception or lack of knowledge. The presentation made by Inclusion Ghana centered on the following:
- Communication with persons with disabilities – what helps increase communication, what to do if you find that you have a hard time communicating with the individual, understanding the individual, or making sure the individual understands
- Representation – is there a representative for the individual? If so, what does it mean in terms of who the paralegal talks with and receives decisions from; whom should the paralegal consider as representing the person? how does confidentiality look in this context?
- Involving the individual and informed consent – how to involve the individual in decisions along the way; how to make sure we are respecting the individual's wishes and following the individual's preferences, including where there is a significant disability; informed consent at crucial junctions: for services, referrals, reporting, pressing charges, mediation, rehabilitation; how to ensure standards in handling cases of survivors with disabilities aren’t lower or different, on account of inaccessibility or misunderstanding of disability
- Accommodations and support in reporting, filing a complaint, being investigated and providing testimony – ways in which to support persons with disabilities in these processes, so that disability is not the reason for paralegals to take a step or refrain from taking a step in the case
Present juridical structures and practices make it very difficult, if not impossible, for persons with intellectual disabilities (PWIDs) to efficiently claim and exercise their rights. Legal professionals lack understanding of the challenges faced by PWIDs to see how legal instruments should fit into the reality of their situations. In accessing the justice system for PWIDs, other groups of professional that one is likely to work with are social workers, the media, police and parents. A workshop was therefore hosted at the Coconut Grove Hotel in Accra by Inclusion Ghana for 35 participants (Judicial Professionals) including lawyers, the police, social workers, members of the judicial service, the media, and parents of PWIDs. After the workshop the participants confirmed:
- improved understanding of PWIDs
- improved understanding of the rights of PWIDs
- improved ability to communicate with PWIDs
- 13 participants also signed up to be 'Champions of Change' for Persons With Intellectual Disabilities (PWIDs). In doing so they have agreed that in their personal and professional capacities they will enable improved access to justice for PWIDs in the access to justice 'chain'; they will also inform their colleagues of communication techniques with PWIDs and will be part of an ongoing group that will be used to disseminate information regarding access to justice issues for PWIDs. This was done as the workshop participants agreed that public education and awareness of the rights of PWIDs was the fundamental building block to improving access to justice for PWIDs.
Inclusion Ghana (IG) joins the Ghana Blind Union, the Ghana Federation of the Disabled, the Ghana Society for Physically Disabled and the Ghana National Association of the Deaf in a Joint Disability Project in Ghana. The overall Objective of the Joint Project is that Persons with disabilities enjoy equal rights in all areas of society in accordance with national and international legislation under constant monitoring of a strong disability movement
For this reason, Inclusion Ghana participated in a 3-days LFA workshop facilitated by Mr. John Nkum of Nkum Associates which took place from the 17th-19th June in Accra. The 5 project partners are viewed as equal partners in the project, however, it is acknowledged that each organization has individual aims, roles and needs. Each organization was therefore tasked to develop an individual component focusing on the particular needs of their membership and/or challenges facing the organization. The individual component for Inclusion Ghana prioritizes the following as the results to be achieved during the period:
- Parents and PWID's are actively advocating for the legal rights and access to education of PWID's.
- Clear road map of full inclusion in the mainstream of disability movement in Ghana.
- Staff with capacity to match the needs of the organization and there is a plan for regular training of the staff.
Inclusion Ghana held its 2nd Annual General Meeting on Friday, June 28, 2013. 2 persons, a representative and a parent of a child with intellectual disability from each member organisation participated in the meeting. Other invited guests at the meeting included representatives from Special Olympics, the Ghana Federation of the Disabled and Inclusion Ghana’s Auditors.
The Board Report was presented by the Chairperson to the members. Issues presented in the board report included Governance and Leadership; Vision, Mission and Strategy; Strategy Relationships; Programme delivery and Impact; Resource Development; Internal operations and Management; Membership Dues. The Auditors of IG also presented their report. Members were updated on all the different including: all the LEV Projects; Star Ghana Project; DRF Project; GFD Joint Project; and Partnership with Special Olympics. Some amendment were also made to the Constitution regarding the constitution of the board and representation of parents on the board.