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The International Conference on Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) is a major bilingual international aids conference which takes place in Africa. Its current biennial hosting alternates between Anglophone and Francophone African countries. The 21st virtual edition of the summit focused on ‘Africa’s AIDS response: the race to 2030 – evidence’.

Among other roles, the United Nations Populations Fund played, the organization presented at the summit, its ongoing delivery of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.


Speaking on the topic, ‘Delivering Comprehensive SRHR Services for Marginalised Groups in the Context of Covid-19 Pandemic’, Ms. Adjoa Yenyi, Mr. Mutaru Goro Iddrisu and Mr. Michael Ige, all from UNFPA Ghana, addressed the impact of the pandemic on the sexual and health rights of young people in Ghana. According to the presentation, with a high unmet need for family planning, increased incidence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), limited access to healthcare services and increased transmission of HIV among young people, educating young people on their SRHR needs was of prime importance.


In the organisation’s response to these challenges, the team outlined some initiatives designed and implemented by UNFPA Ghana. The team shared the Kayayei Assistance Project (KASPRO), which had provided SRHR services and information to 500 vulnerable female head porters (Kayayei) and door-to- door outreaches, which have proved useful in reaching the furthest behind. The presentation also shed light on the technological innovations ‘Wawaba’ and ‘BOAME’. Both innovations have revolutionized the manner in which young people access SRHR-related services by providing access through a web-based platform and a mobile application.


Among other things, the Orange Support Centre (OSC), an innovation birthed from a collaboration between UNFPA Ghana and the Domestic Violence Secretariat of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGSCP) to offer effective legal, medical and psychosocial support to survivors/victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), was also mentioned.


The presenters recounted that, through these initiatives, over 260 cases of SGBV had been handled, over 6000 calls had been received and psychosocial, legal and medical aid had been offered to victims and survivors of SGBV by the OSC. Through KASPRO, dignity kits had been distributed to 447 women and girls, they also received capacity building, SRHR education and. Through outreaches, over 13,017 people had been reached with SRH, SGBV and pregnancy prevention, over 43,200 condoms had been distributed and awareness on increased existing SRH and SGBV support systems had been raised.


In conclusion, there is no denying that the pandemic has challenged the development community to be innovative to ensure that SRHR information and services continue to be prioritized and delivered. It is also evident that systems must be strengthened to address the unavoidable circumstances that arise as a result of the pandemic.