The Medical Superintendent of the Elmina Polyclinic has advised parents and guardians to immediately send their children who have been defiled to health facilities for prompt medical attention in order not to subdue evidence.
“Violence against women and girls are important public health issues that must be treated with dispatch. However, in many cases, victims are delayed at home for days before reporting to a health facility," Dr Felix Darddey said.
“Such unnecessary delays make it difficult in getting the evidence against the perpetrators on the crimes alleged to have committed making them often go scot-free."
Dr Darddey was contributing to the dissemination of results of Adolescent Scorecard Accountability Assessment Forum on improving adolescents’ access to healthcare at Elmina in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA) Municipality.
He described as untenable excuses that "it was the devil that made the perpetrators engage in those acts" and called for an immediate halt to the handling of defilement and rape cases at home and in churches.
Victims of sexual molestations, especially defilement, should not hesitate to resort to the necessary law enforcement institutions and avoid propositions from families for settlements out of court.
The meeting was to allow adolescents, healthcare providers and community leaders to collectively address and provide solutions to the result of a scorecard assessment of some health facilities in the District.
The scorecard assessment took into consideration the facility assessment on operations, staffing, accessibility, and affordability while the clients component considered adolescents knowledge on health services affordability and quality of service.
The assessment was carried out in three health facilities in KEEA - Benyadze Community Health Planning and Services (CHPS) Compound, Komenda Clinic, and Elmina Polyclinic, by the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHRs) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Explaining the rationale behind the assessment, Dr Senanu Agbozo, the consultant for ARHR/UNFPA, who led the scorecard assessment, said it was a community-based initiative to ensure health service providers were accountable the health facility and district levels to adolescents, families and communities.
It was also an approach to manage the performance of health facilities with the involvement of key beneficiaries for improved health services at all times.
Touching on some of the findings of the assessment, Dr Agbozo mentioned inefficient inter-agency collaboration and lack of communication between health institutions and allied stakeholders as a serious impediment to adolescent healthcare in the Municipality.
This situation has affected adolescents’ ability to access free medical care and counselling, leading to shying away from sensitive health-related needs and justice in cases of sexual abuses.
Others are lack of basic health facilities, telephone services, counselling units, no standard operating procedures, family planning services, and under-staffing.
Some teens, in an interview after the programme, called for inter-sectorial approach and holistic support in responding to the needs of survivors of gender-based violence to involve the police, medical personnel, social workers and psychologists.
“We cannot do this without the police who are the front liners when it comes to law enforcement and the traditional leaders who are the gatekeepers in the communities.”
Others also urged the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to speed up the process of establishing the Domestic Violence Support Fund to assist needy victims.
“Currently no money or funds is set aside and so victims of rape and defilement had to bear their medical cost, which many were unable to pay.
“The medical charges are reportedly pegged around GH¢300 for the production of a report," they said.