Penplusbytes seeks equitable healthcare & education for citizens in Ghana, Mali

By Jerry Akornor 

Penplusbytes kicks off its Health Education and Resource Equity (H.E.R.E.) and Now project in Ghana and Mali on the back of several years of work to increase access to quality healthcare for vulnerable groups in Ghana. 

Funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the two-year   project   will   inform policy formulation   and implementation   fore quitable access to health and education in the two countries. The H.E.R.E. and Now project focuses on social protection policies and issues within the health and education sectors in Ghana and Mali specifically; but aimsto improve citizens’ access to affordable, quality community health care in theAfrican sub-region. This will be as a result of the  research outputs that the project will share with a wide group of actors in West Africa.

The project is the first in a series of steps that the twenty-year-old Civil Society Organisation, Penplusbytes is taking to ensure that citizens across West Africa are mobilising properly to get governments to set aside budgets and resources to improve the quality of   teaching, building   classrooms   and   spaces that are conducive for learning especially at the basic levels of education and providing healthcare that prolongs life expectancy for them.

The Executive   Director   of   Penplusbytes, Ms.   Juliet Amoah   explained Penplusbytes is   implementing the   project because, “we   believe   health   and education serve   as   pillars to national   development, thus   contributing   to   the proper  formulation and  implementation of  policies within these   sectors  is  a worthwhile cause”.  

Explaining why the project is being implemented in Mali as well, Ms. Amoah said “it will  offer a strategic opportunity to analyse and compare factors that create an enabling environment or drawbacks in government’s efforts in making and   implementing social   protection policies that   seeks to improve   the livelihoods of their people in anglophone and francophone countries”. 

The   H.E.R.E. and Now   project, is a   citizen-oriented project   as it seeks to leverage  the Right  to   Information provisions   that exist in Ghana and   Mali, which  enable   citizens to understand   more fully what their  governments  are doing or should be doing for them in the two sectors of health and education. 

Penplusbytes intends to mobilise and empower the citizens of both countries to demand  for   better public   service   delivery in the two   sectors, within   the framework of political and social accountability. To do this effectively, the project will deploy an App called “Short-changed”which will be backed by offline interventions such as story-telling, blogging and effective media messaging campaigns, to ignite and sustain public attention and interest on social protection policies in health and education. Some key outcomes of the project will be its focus on  monitoring the actions and inactions of  public office holders,   challenging  institutional   policies  and practices at the local government level, as well as countering popular beliefs and practices which hinder the effective delivery of services in the two policy areas, so as to make long lasting changes. ###About Penplusbytes.

Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization driving change through innovations in the   following   key areas:   using new digital   technologies to enable   good governance and accountability, new media and innovations, climate and well-being, and enhancing oversight for effective utilisation of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.

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