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Rights-Based Approach to Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHRs) for Refugees in Ghana

Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHRs) for Refugees in Ghana

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What specific problem(s) are you trying to address?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Women’s Commission for Refugee report on the health situations of women fleeing conflict or natural disaster, an estimated 13% of all pregnancy-related deaths are associated with clandestine, unsafe abortion worldwide; and in refugee settings, complications from unsafe abortion account for some 25-50% of maternal deaths. Adolescent girls adolescent girls are vulnerable to rape or forced into prostitution on an ongoing basis in Ghana. In addition, adolescent boys are engaged in drug abuse. The most commonly abused substance was alcohol, but methamphetamine and marijuana were used as well, despite being banned in camps, it traded in surrounding communities.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address?

Some of our questions are: Is the refugee rights observed in the provision of Sexual and Reproductive Health service (SRHs) within the camps? Will the text messaging platform receive the needed approval by the authority and other stakeholders working within the refugee camps?

Explain Your Idea

VEReF will setup Youth-Friendly Centers (YFCs), text messaging, motivation, education, and self-efficacy to address risk behaviours associated with high rates of unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, STIs including HIV and substance abuse among adolescent refugees. These will be implemented for the 16,409 refugees from over 25 different countries of origin housed in the five refugee camps across the country to increase adolescent services usage. We would also build the capacity of health workers, managers of private pharmacies, drug peddlers, TBAs and herbalists identified within the five refugee camps on best practices in providing safe health care and management of post-abortion complications, as well as Refugees’ Rights Charter.

Name the three most important ways that your idea will address your identified problem(s).

1) Establishing Youth-Friendly Centers (YFCs) to provide information through peer educators, this helps reduce high rates of unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, STIs including HIV and substance abuse among adolescent refugees. 2) Provision of text messaging platform will afford access to reliable information and counselling services 24/7 via the platform, this will help reduce stigmatisation, radicalisation, self-induced and unsafe abortions practices, and increase the use of contraceptives. 3) Building the capacity of health workers, managers of private pharmacies, drug peddlers, TBAs and herbalists to respect the Refugees’ Rights Charter, provide safe health care service and manage post-abortion complications.

How is your idea unique?

Our approach is unique, as it would foster leadership skills among young refugees as they are trained to volunteer as peer educators in the Youth-Friendly Centers (YFCs) but also to reduce substance abuse. This will also feed into the de-radicalisation of the adolescent refugee boys through the use of text massaging.

What are some outstanding concerns or questions that you have regarding your idea?

Voluntary abortion is illegal and criminal in Ghana, whilst the abortion law is not fully interpreted which makes the provision of abortion care concerning physical and mental health unclear. With limited access to abortion services due to provider bias and bad attitude of health workers, discrimination against youth and stigmatisation on cultural and religious lines. ). In addition, adolescent boys in these camps are radicalized and travel to join either IS or Boko Haram group in their fight.

Who are your end users?

Our end users are adolescent girls and boys in the five refugee camps across Ghana.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Ghana

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement
  • Community at risk of disaster

Tell us more about the emergency setting that you intend to implement in

Our emergency setting will be in five refugee camps located the Western Region, Central Region, and Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana.

What is your organization's name?

Volta Educational Renaissance Foundation (VEReF)

Tell us more about you.

VEReF was registered in Ghana as a non-governmental organisation in 2007. VEReF is a strategic partner of Alliance Reproductive Health Rights, Planned Parenthood Association (Ghana), and an active influencer and initiator of the collaborating agencies that submitted March 2017 Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Report under the UN Universal Periodic Review of Ghana to the UN Human Rights Council through the Human Rights Advocacy Centre of Ghana. Since 2010, VEReF has been a leading partner of the UNAIDS/Ghana AIDS Commission at regional level in a variety of engagements, including technical assistance and expertise, capacity building, and policy development, campaign and sensitisation against discrimination.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Indigenous-led organization
  • Locally/community-led organization

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Community - 1+ communities within 1 country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • Yes, for more than a year.

Organization Location


What is your organizational status?

  • Registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Early Stage Innovation: exploring my innovation, refining, researching, and gathering inspiration.



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