The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with funding from the Government of Japan, has launched two new projects to contribute to Ghana’s COVID-19 recovery and peace and security in West Africa.
The two projects are seeking to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 on health and SDG 16 on peace. Commenting on the importance of the projects, Himeno Tsutomu, Ambassador of Japan to Ghana, noted:
“As a development partner, the Government and the people of Japan are very happy to support these projects because of our friendship with Ghana, and our strong partnership with UNDP and our national partners. We see these two projects as significant because health contributes not only to protecting but also empowering people, and peace contributes to development. Both important concepts are the philosophy of Japanese international cooperation, reflected in the TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) process”.
The health project, titled ‘strengthening the community health system to support the continuity of essential services for the vulnerable during and post-pandemic of COVID-19’ will be implemented with the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service. It will strengthen the capacities of communities and vulnerable groups such as women, children, persons living with HIV, persons living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and slum dwellers for the uptake of health services during and post-COVID-19. It is also expected to strengthen the capacities of health facilities to provide these essential health services and in-country capacities for managing COVID-19 and future pandemics.
On the other hand, the peace and security project on ‘strengthening response capacities of state and civil society actors in preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism in coastal states in West Africa’, will reinforce response capacities of state security agencies and civil society actors in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Togo and Benin, to prevent and counterterrorism and violent extremism. This project is being implemented with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC).
At the launch, Dr. Angela Lusigi, Resident Representative of UNDP in Ghana, noted that COVID-19 has heightened inequalities and there is the need for continued partnerships to respond effectively to the pandemic. She added that security threats, including violent extremism, also require urgent attention.
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide us with a roadmap to eradicate poverty and sustain development by tackling the root causes of conflict and human insecurity. Health, wellbeing, peace, and security are very critical for inclusive and sustainable development. By strengthening collaborative mechanisms for international partners, civil society actors, and the private sector to work together, we can expand our efforts to build community resilience”, Dr. Lusigi noted.
Activities of the COVID-19 health project will support the continuity of essential services for the vulnerable during and post-pandemic by equipping five under-resourced health facilities and Urban Community Health Planning and Services (CHPS) in Ga Central and Accra Metropolitan Assembly with relevant medical equipment to enhance service delivery. The project intervention will also support the development of a digital tool to strengthen non-communicable diseases response within communities and provide psychosocial support for persons living with HIV. Mobile laboratories will also be provided at four points of entry at Aflao, Elubo, Tema, and Paga to strengthen case detection and the management of COVID-19, and future health public emergencies.
Emphasizing the importance of the health project, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director General of the Ghana Health Service, revealed that, COVID-19 has indeed resulted in about 11% decline in outpatient department (OPD) attendance for essential health services and a similar decline is also being witnessed in admissions, and immunization coverages, among others in Ghana. He sees the health project as complementary to the Government’s efforts to ensure continuity of essential health services, especially for the vulnerable population.
Tina Gifty Naa Ayeley Mensah, the Deputy Minister for Health, speaking at the launch, thanked the Government of Japan and UNDP for the continued partnership. She said “supporting the continuity of essential health services to address malaria, AIDs, tuberculosis and neglected tropical disease will be critical if Ghana is to attain the SDG 3 of ending epidemics by 2030 and this project is timely.
Major General Francis Ofori, KAIPTC Commandant, commended the peace project. He noted that “security is an ever-changing and fluid concept. This means that we cannot rest on our oars, but we must continually and constantly ensure we are able to plug the gaps created by insecurity in our sub-region. We must take a more proactive approach rather than being reactive to tackling insecurity particularly in our troubled sub-region”.
The two projects will contribute to Ghana’s contributions to address public health emergencies and increase national capacities in West Africa, to prevent and counter violent extremism and terrorism for the advancement of the SDGs.