CSOs critical in human rights advocacy

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Peter Yeboah,  Executive Director of the Christian Health Association Peter Yeboah, Executive Director of the Christian Health Association

Dr Peter Yeboah, Executive Director of the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), says Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are critical voices in advocating for human rights, gender, the inclusion of vulnerable populations, and community systems strengthening.

However, he said the lack of requisite skills on the part of CSOs made it difficult for them to effectively engage Government to receive the needed support.

Dr Yeboah said this at a five-day training workshop on leadership and political influence organized by the Ghana HIV and AIDS Network (GHANET) in Accra for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the health sector.

The workshop was sponsored by Dakar-based Civil Society Institute for HIV and Health in West and Central Africa (CSO-WCA) in collaboration with Enda Santé (also based in Dakar).

Participants for the workshop, numbering 38, were drawn from the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health (GNCH), GhanaCoalition of NGOs in Malaria (GNCM), Stop TB Partnership Ghana (STBPG), Network of Persons Living with HIV, (NAP+), Ghana TB Voice Network (GTBVN), Prolink Organization, CEPHERG.

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Others were from; Young Health Advocates Ghana (YHAG), Non-State Actors (NSA Ghana), West Africa AIDS Foundation (WAAF), Coalition of NGOs in Nutrition and Food Security(CONFESEC), Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC), People’s Health Movement, Ghana Healthy Life International, (GHLI), PORSH, Family Health Foundation (FHF), CHAG and GHANET.

Topics treated included human complexities, perceptions, paradigms, emotional intelligence, leadership styles, and organizational development, political influence, breakthrough and breakdown concepts, vicious circles, and generative listening.

Dr. Yeboah said such training, meant to equip CSOs on political influence and leadership was fitting and demanded all the support available.

He said CHAG being the oldest and largest non-state actor in health in Ghana and current Principal Recipient (PR) of the Global Fund HIV/TB Community Systems Strengthening (CSS) programme, was ready to support CSOs like GHANET.

Dr Yeboah said given the broad scope of the composition of CSOs, the Global Fund Strategy 2017-2022 had anticipated broader involvement of all stakeholders who would question the status quo, demand change, mobilize action, and seek accountability from government and non-government actors alike.

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He said CHAG had recognized the need to build the capacity of CSOs and had already initiated a capacity assessment of networks including GHANET.

“The aftermath of the capacity assessment will see to delivering tailor-made solutions and interventions to equip CSOs to effectively deliver on their mandate,” he said.

Mr Victor Attah Ntumi, President of GHANET, said the training was to sharpen and strengthen the leadership skills of the participants.

He said the GHANET-CSO-WCA partnership, which began in 2020 had already started yielding good fruits.

The President said the partnership was intended to build the capacity of GHANET and other CSO networks in Ghana to be able to advocate for improvement in health service delivery, particularly regarding HIV and AIDS.

Mr Ntumi said CSO-WCA was currently providing leadership for CSO networks in West and Central Africa to engage better with the Global Fund for Tuberculosis, AIDS, and Malaria (GFTAM).

He said that was being done through the implementation of nine thematic areas, including Leadership and Political Influence, which had been put under the ambit of Enda Santé.

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Reverend Dr. Jane Okrah, Community Support Adviser at UNAIDS, lauded GHANET for extending a hand of friendship to other CSOs in the country to participate in the workshop instead of limiting the opportunity to only its members.

She said it was a joy for her to see GHANET making great efforts to revive CSO activities in the area of HIV and AIDS.

Rev Okrah emphasized that leadership was an important ingredient for advancement in the work of CSOs and urged all participants to take the training seriously.

Mrs Elsie Ayeh, President of NAP+ and a participant, said leaders needed to do a lot of introspection and should be able to separate facts from perceptions and interpretations.

That, she said would make them judge situations better before taking the corresponding actions.

Another participant, Mr. David Afreh, Chairman of STBPG, said leaders needed to cultivate the habit of listening.

“It is only when we pay attention to what our constituents are saying that we can know their exact needs and plan to meet those needs accordingly,” he said.



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