Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, has called on the international community to support efforts at developing social protection systems that would facilitate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Social Development.
According to her, the support should also focus on addressing the inequality gap to enhance social cohesion and achievement of the SDGs. This, she strongly believes, will strengthen social protection in various countries and better fasten the pace of alleviating poverty.
She made the call as the Head of Ghana Delegation at the on-going 54TH UN Session on Social Development in New York.
Speaking on the theme, Rethinking and Strengthening Social Development in the Contemporary World, Nana Oye Lithur reiterated the call to recognize the need to build capacities across development partners, government agencies and civil society for social protection systems and also provide adequate funds to support implementation.
She intimated that the Session's theme was appropriate, coming at a time when the SDGs had been adopted. This, she said, called for a holistic review and reflection on the achievements as well as challenges in implementing the MDGs to guide in developing appropriate strategies for achieving the SDGs.
She further suggested that, a component of strengthening and rethinking social development should focus on the identification of good practices such as policies and strategies in the implementation of the MDGs that could be adopted and adapted to suit different socio-economic and geographic contexts.
"The Government of Ghana is learning from its best practices and building an effective and efficient social protection system as a key strategy for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The system is an integrated and coordinated approach anchored in a National Social Protection Policy."
Mrs Lithur indicated that the integrated and coordinated approach has led to fruitful results which include providing access to essential health care to all by partnering with the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIS) to register and issued biometric NHIS cards to more than 12,000 elderly persons; 7000 inmates of prisons, over 14,000 Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) beneficiary households and registering more than 1.7 million school children benefiting from the Ghana School Feeding Programme onto the NHIS.
"Our cash transfer programme in Ghana is being strategically used to reduce stunting and malnutrition in children. LEAP 1000 has been launched to target poor households with pregnant women and children less than two years. So far, 6,124 beneficiary households in 7 districts of the Northern and 3 districts in the Upper East regions have been paid.
"The Ghana National School Feeding Programme (GNSFP) is currently providing one hot and adequately nutritious meal for 1,728,681 pupils in 5,000 schools each school day.
"To support the elderly, the National Policy on the Aged is being implemented. A Bill for the Aged has been drafted and is awaiting Cabinet approval.
"The Eban Elderly Welfare Card was introduced in 2015 to enable elderly persons above 65 years benefit from 50% reductions in Metro Mass Transit bus fares and get priority access to other social services such as Hospitals, Banks etc. Approximately 11,526 elderly persons have been issued with Eban cards in 6 regions. A National rollout is underway to cover 25,000 elderly persons, she said".
The Gender Minister as well touched on the achievements of the Labour Intensive Public Works programme which has generated employment for over 88,867 poor persons with 57% being female within a year. As well as the development of the Ghana Standards on Accessibility Designs for implementation which would enable owners of public buildings to provide accessibility to buildings for disabled persons in compliance with the Disability Act of 2006.