Minister Seeks Gender-Based Policy For Health Sector

THE MINISTER of Health, Joseph Yieleh Chireh has called for a comprehensive gender policy in the health sector that would help bridge gaps in health service delivery. He said this would ensure that Ghana attains a healthier population for proper development. Speaking at a consultative validation workshop on the Health Sector Gender Mainstreaming Strategy in Accra on Tuesday, Mr. Chireh said though the MOH acknowledges the fact women and men have different health needs and challenges, it was about time Ghanaians addressed gender inequalities in order to promote a healthier population. �This would promote the elimination of pervasive gender discrimination and gender-based violence by ensuring equal and equitable access to reproductive health services and care,� he said. He indicated that a strategic framework should be adopted in identifying gender needs and gaps in the health sector to enhance knowledge and expertise in gender analysis, gender audit and mainstreaming at every level of the health sector, national, regional and district. The minister said the goals of bridging gender equity and inequality gaps in health delivery that meet health-related MDGs 4, 5, and 6 could not be achieved without using gender mainstreaming as a strategy to operationalize the health sector gender policy. He said the health sector was committed towards achieving the MDGs by reducing neo-natal and maternal mortalities and in reducing communicable and non-communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. A gender policy consultant, Janet Kwawu who was chairperson for the workshop called for a holistic approach in tabling efforts in addressing health issues related to gender equality. She said proper validation was the key to determining how the health ministry could deal with the health needs of women and children since they were the most vulnerable. �In order for government to report properly on gender equity there is the need for quality assurance and accessibility to quality health services,� she noted. Mrs. Kwawu noted that to identify and bridge the disparity in the ways women and men seek health care, there was the need to study the dynamics of women and men based on their lifestyle and vulnerability. Emma Ofori-Agyemang, a director at MOH averred that the mainstreaming gender perspective was the process of assessing the implications of any planned action on men and women, including registration, procedures or programmes. She said the health sector gender policy would ensure gender equality and women�s empowerment as central to national development. �It is a strategy for making women�s as well as men�s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating of procedures and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally,� she added.