The role of a first lady is not defined by the 1992 Constitution. However, since Ghana was ushered into the democratic dispensation in 1993, first ladies have defined roles for themselves.
Apart from accompanying their husbands to state functions and ceremonies, first ladies have actively engaged in the development process.
From Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings in 1993, Mrs Theresa Kufuor in 2001 to Mrs Ernestina Naadu Mills in 2009, it has become increasingly common for first ladies to select specific causes to promote.
Mrs Lordina Mahama, the current First Lady, is no different from her predecessors. Ever since her husband, John Dramani Mahama, became President, Mrs Mahama has engaged herself in promoting healthcare delivery and women and children’s welfare.
Through her foundation, the Lordina Foundation, the First Lady has embarked on a number of initiatives which focus on the well-being of children, women and the vulnerable in society.
Since she was elected the First Vice President of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA), Mrs Mahama has been working, in collaboration with the Ghana AIDS Commission, to ensure that the UNAIDS Global Plan to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) is achieved.
To achieve the objectives, Mrs Mahama embarked on an advocacy campaign on HIV and AIDS, breast and cervical cancers.
She successfully implemented the Ghana Chapter of the OAFLA, in addition to breast and cervical cancer initiatives in Koforidua in the Eastern Region and Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The initiative, which focuses on efforts at achieving the national and global targets of PMTCT and empowering women to take charge of their reproductive health, received the support of chiefs, queenmothers, religious leaders, political authorities, civil society and health personnel.
The project is on the theme, “Prevention of mother-to-child transmission: the key to an HIV-free generation” and is in line with the Ghana PMTCT scale-up plan and approach to prevent HIV infection in women of reproductive age, HIV transmission from mother-to-child and providing ongoing care and support for mothers.
Through awareness creation, education, as well as testing and screening outreaches for HIV, breast and cervical cancers, the First Lady aims to improve the lives of women to enable them to assist the development of the country.
The vulnerable at heart
Passionate and committed to the vulnerable and marginalised in society, the First Lady has also taken up some humanitarian charity works over the years by donating to some children’s homes frequently.
She has also been supporting the Gambaga “witches” camp where she visits and interacts with the residents occasionally.
To fulfill her commitment to promote girl-child education, the First lady began a project last year to provide accommodation and educational facilities for residents of the Gambaga “witches” camp in the Northern Region and the Gambaga community.
The facility, when completed, is expected to enable the residents and inmates to acquire various vocational skills so that they can learn skills to make a living.
As part of her three-day tour of the Northern Region last month, the First Lady inspected the project and expressed the hope that work on the facility would soon be completed.
During interaction with the residents, she condemned individuals who blamed and abandoned their mothers for their misfortunes in life, saying society should not condone such acts.
The First Lady presented items such as wax prints, used clothes, gallons of oil and bags of rice to the inmates of the camp.
Also, she visited the Tamale and the Anfaani Children’s homes where she also donated assorted food items, mosquito nets and toiletries for the upkeep of the children.
On education, Mrs Mahama also gives support by sponsoring brilliant, needy children to further their education.
Supporting improved health care
Currently, the Lordina Foundation is distributing medical equipment and supplies to some hospitals in deprived communities in the country, an initiative intended to promote and support improved healthcare delivery in the country.
With support from Medshare and the United States Agency and International Development (USAID), the Lordina Foundation has already donated hundreds of boxes of syringes, catheters, towels, thrash containers, breathing circuits, walking aids, hospital beds, mattresses, bicycles, ambulances, among others, to 11 hospitals in the Northern, Central and Western regions.
The facilities that have benefitted from the donations are the Airplane Health Centre in the Ellembelle District, the Dixcove Hospital in the Ahanta West District, both in the Western Region, and the Saltpond Municipal Hospital and the Catholic Hospital at Apam in the Central Region.
Others are the Bole, Damango, Tolon, Yagaba-Kubori and the Walewale District hospitals, the Savelugu/Nanton Municipal Hospital and the Nalerigu Baptist Mission Hospital in the Northern Region.
The medical equipment is intended to complement the efforts of the government to provide quality healthcare delivery in the country.
According to her, “While the government is committed to improving the health and welfare of the people, it cannot achieve all that by itself. It is necessary for individuals, NGOs and other charities to supplement the efforts of the government in healthcare provision.”
She said the foundation was committed to providing support for the government's quest to provide quality and accessible health care for Ghanaians through the mobilisation of resources.
The First Lady urged the hospital management to ensure that the equipment and supplies were put to judicious use to improve the quality of healthcare delivery for residents of the communities.
She expressed gratitude to Medshare and USAID for the support.
The First Lady, during her visit to the various communities, was warmly welcomed by health professionals, traditional and political leaders of the communities.
She was highly commended by the leaders for her immense support to the improvement of health care and the lives of the people in society.
The efforts of Mrs Mahama have gone a long way to make a lot of difference in the lives of many children and women and it is the expectation of well-meaning citizens that the efforts and projects will be maintained and scaled up to further improve the lives of the vulnerable in society.
Source: Daily Graphic
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