The Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Mr Niyi Ojuolape, has applauded the Government of Ghana (GoG) for the effective management of the Covid-19 crisis.
He acknowledged the fact that the government took the situation of the outbreak of the pandemic seriously right from its onset, with the President announcing a $100 million start-up funding for the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), strengthening health systems and infrastructure among other things.
Mr Ojuolape, who spoke at the close of a 3-day training for Operators and Officers of the UNFPA’s Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Hotline in Accra on Friday, said that before the United Nations could offer any help to the GoG, it had already risen up to the challenge.
He said the swift effort is highly commendable, considering the comprehensive response by the Government in mobilising retired health sector professionals to provide back-up services, and subsequently, announcing some various incentives including; electricity and water tariff supports, as well as food and shelter for the needy, to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
The Country Representative, however, said the only gap identified, was in the area of SGBV, which had been observed globally during crisis situations as a major concern even after have been made to address the key problem.
For that reason, he said the SGBV Hotline was re-vitalised by the UNFPA, to support the work of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, in addressing issues of violence ad abuses especially against women and children during the Covid-19 restrictive period and beyond.
This, therefore, required the training of the personnel to manage the Hotline and offer services to be able to understand the key role they are expected to play in conflict management, providing psychosocial support to victims of abuse, encouraging the public to report such cases, and building trust in State institutions for legal remedies.
Mr Ojuolape stated that statistics globally showed that various forms of violence are known to happen when groups of people are confined to one place for long periods.
Although there is no data to support the assertion especially in developing countries, there is a general consensus that rape, assault, wife battery among others were on the ascendancy during the lockdown and restrictive periods, he said.
He said an update gathered from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU), of the Ghana Police Service, for instance, showed that there was no significant change in the SGBV figures recorded during this period.
He explained that this could be attributed to either the lack of reporting of SGBV cases by victims and the public, or the fact that the massive media campaign embarked upon by the UNFPA and its collaborators on the existence of the Helpline and the consequences, was indeed working, deterring perpetrators of such crimes from the act.
Mr Ojuolape commended the participants who were drawn from DOVVSU, Ministry of Gender, the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana, the Media and some staff of the UNFPA, for availing themselves for the training and the subsequent task ahead.
He also thanked the facilitators of the training, the co-organising partnership institutions made up of the DOVVSU, the Multi-Party Trust Fund Secretariat, and the Canadian Government.
All the participants were presented with a Certificate of Participation.