Meet AIM Grant Recipient: Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights
We recently sat down with Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR), one of our first AIM Grant recipients to learn more about their work, how they plan to use the grant and the challenges they face.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your organization?
ARHR is a women, children, and adolescents’ health advocacy group established in 2004. ARHR is a Ghanaian NGO with over 40 members working on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH) across all 16 regions of Ghana. We work to ensure that the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) rights of all people – especially vulnerable groups such as the poor, marginalized, and women of reproductive age – are protected, respected, and fulfilled irrespective of socioeconomic status, gender, or race. The ARHR envisions a society in which Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is achieved.
In line with this vision, ARHR is leading a coalition of civil society organizations to advocate for a high-functioning primary health care system in Ghana. Ghana has adopted primary health care as the pathway to achieving UHC by 2030. There was therefore the need for effective advocacy grounded in human rights and evidence to accelerate health reforms within Ghana’s PHC system that will deliver quality, access, and equity for all without leaving anyone behind.
ARHR’s core values include gender equality, mutual respect, participation and consensus building, equity, transparency and accountability, community sovereignty, and empowerment.
2. You attended GHC’s CSO Summit earlier this year, which sought to shed light on the impacts of COVID-19 on populations most left behind. How has COVID-19 impacted your organization and the community it serves?
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals, communities, institutions, and the public. In order to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining its services and activities, ARHR re-strategized by fortifying its online presence. The organization adopted virtual platforms like ZOOM for its meetings with partners and stakeholders and continued to use social media platforms for advocacy. The pandemic also slowed down the flow of funds for SRH activities as the emergency of the pandemic became the focus of many organizations and partners. This slowed down certain aspects of programs run by ARHR.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions had an impact on the communities the organization serves. There is evidence to suggest that disease outbreaks have a negative effect on the uptake of contraceptive services and COVID-19 was not exempt. Furthermore, SRH services tend to take a back seat in times of emergencies. Access to SRH services like family planning, and antenatal and postnatal care in rural areas in Ghana is already hindered by several factors and COVID-19 escalated these problems. COVID-19 also contributed to the disruption of the livelihoods of women and girls this further increased their vulnerability to gender-based violence.
3. What is the biggest challenge your organization is facing today?
One area the Alliance needs to improve is strengthening membership and showcasing the activities, experiences, and best practices of all associates on various platforms to enhance the visibility of their collective and separate contributions to national development.
4. What are you currently doing to overcome these challenges? What help do you need to overcome them?
ARHR continues to focus on continuity in SRH information and services. The organization reaches out to the most vulnerable together with its partners and other Community-Based Organisations, focussing on stigma reduction and community engagement.
5. How are you hoping the AIM Grant will help your organization?
As an organization that advocates for strengthened primary health care (PHC) toward increased access to equitable and quality health care, ARHR intends to develop an advocacy plan aimed at making gender equity central to the delivery of Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) services to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The microgrant will provide ARHR with resources to mobilize its advocacy partners including the Universal Access to Healthcare Campaign, and the PHC Advocacy Coalition to develop a strong advocacy plan that will seek to address the gender gap in the delivery of primary healthcare services through CHPS and the improvement of the NHIS to achieve UHC in Ghana.
6. What does “health equity” mean to you?
Ensuring that people everywhere have access to tailored, quality, and affordable healthcare irrespective of one’s gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. Equity ensures that barriers that affect access to quality and affordable healthcare services are removed. Health is a fundamental human right and this means every person, regardless of where they are located, should be able to access the care they need, when they need it.
7. What are some actionable steps you think global health decision-makers can take to increase health equity?
Some steps global health decision makers can take include:
- Increasing investment in healthcare, specifically primary healthcare
- Increasing community collaboration as well as multi-sector collaboration
- Ensuring that gender is central to the delivery of healthcare through policies that are tailored to the needs of women and adolescent girls
- Including health in all policies
8. What is the most important message you want to give to global health decision-makers?
The right to health is a human right; therefore, attaining universal health care (UHC) is non-negotiable.
9. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We would like to thank the GHC for the AIM initiative. We hope this partnership will contribute to strengthening the health system for the delivery of equitable health care for women, children, and adolescents.