Ghana’s New Policies Enhance Service Equity
June 15th, 2018 | News
June 15th, 2018 | News
As Ghana makes progress on the global 90-90-90 goals, the JSI-implemented USAID Strengthening the Care Continuum Project (the Care Continuum) is helping the Government of Ghana ensure that health services are welcoming to and supportive of all sections of the population, especially those most at-risk for HIV.
For the past year, the Care Continuum has worked alongside government leadership and key stakeholders from the Ghana AIDS Commission and the National AIDS/STI Control Programme to draft new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for service providers working with key populations (KPs), which include female sex workers and their non-paying partners, men who have sex with men, transgender individuals, and people living with HIV. While Ghana has made significant progress in reducing its number of HIV cases, the 2014 modes of transmission report indicates that a significant number of all new infections—28%—occur among KPs.
Dr. Henry Nagai, chief of party for the Care Continuum, said “For Ghana, reaching key populations with HIV treatment is challenging, but essential to the pursuit of the 90-90-90 goals. These standard operating procedures will improve KP access to HIV services across the country by ensuring health and community workers have the knowledge and sensitivity to help KPs live long, healthy lives.”
The SOPs emphasize biological services and linkages to care (representing the second and third 90s). In addition to detailing standards for the provision of services, the SOPs include enhanced strengthened community services and social accountability issues/steps to assure continuous supply of HIV commodities.
While drafting the SOPs, Care Continuum staff worked closely with representatives from the KP community, government, and civil society stakeholders to identify areas that required change. Revisions include case managers and working’ within health facilities, community participation in connection with social accountability issues, and protocols for responding to incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.
“One of the project’s mandates is to improve the services offered to KPs and the environment in which they receive these services,” said Angelina Nyanor, a technical lead and advisor for the Care Continuum. “By directly engaging representatives from the KP community in the revision process, we are ensuring that KPs have a voice to ask for the kind of care they want and need in a stigma-free environment.”
The USAID Strengthening the Care Continuum Project, implemented by JSI in partnership with the Population Council, is strengthening the capacity of the Government of Ghana and its partners to provide high-quality and comprehensive HIV services for key populations . Using a coordinated and sustainable country-owned and led approach, JSI is improving KPs’ access to and use of HIV services while working to reduce stigma and discrimination in health settings.