We've invited Kanton Salifu Issifu, the executive director of the Community Development Alliance in Ghana, to share his insights and experiences with addressing healthcare and wellness needs in Ghana.
First, Mr. Issifu shares that Ghana is one of the most stable countries in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Unlike nearby Mali and Burkina Faso, Ghana has remained stable with a democratic government and a peaceful environment. However, despite this stability, Mr. Issifu notes how Ghana struggles with implementing healthcare needs across the region, which is where The Community Development Alliance (CDA) steps in to fill in those gaps. CDA is an independent, not-for-profit community organization that addresses the need for supplies and services across the region, particularly in poorer communities. CDA also examines the barriers to positive healthcare outcomes and strategically collaborates with both organizations and communities to ensure both buy-in and success of their strategic efforts.
For example, Mr. Issifu speaks of a CDA program addressing maternal mortality. The program partnered with UNICEF and considered the impediments to healthy pregnancy and birth outcomes, including that many pregnant women were not visiting health clinics for delivery or postnatal care. The program sought to address these needs by encouraging clinic visits, spreading helpful information, and recognizing cultural factors, such as educating men so that husbands could approve their wives to attend services in the clinic rather than staying in the village. Mr. Issifu asserts that the program saw an increase in women delivering babies in the hospital and attending clinic visits for postpartum care and higher rates of immunizations for infants and children. Over 85% of the target communities achieved a ZERO maternal death within the 2-year project period. New-born deaths also reduced by over 50% resulting in improved healthcare outcomes.
CDA uses a collaborative approach to address healthcare service disparities, including working with community leaders, government organizations, and healthcare providers. Mr. Issifu states that this includes parts of the government, Ghana Health Services, and community members. This approach helps to build consensus so that many people can co-own the services and systems. He also notes that it is particularly advantageous that CDA is a non-governmental organization, as government-run programs can struggle with corruption and conflict of interest. Instead, CDA is independent and objective. They have found a successful balance: they follow the law not to upset the government, inform the government agencies and get feedback from them. But they are not funded or directed by the government but remain independent and citizen-led. People can drive the change, and Mr. Issifu states, "everyone has buy-in."
CDA has also looked towards telehealth as a method to address disparities in healthcare. They use an SMS texting platform to help people with access to family planning services and HIV testing and medication. This program ensures privacy which addresses the barrier that people will not want to access such services within the community for fear of seeing relatives and elders.
CDA continues to move forward with multiple programs aiming to reduce gaps between suppliers, clinicians, and demands in a culturally responsive way.
Kanton Salifu Issifu is the Executive Director of The Community Development Alliance in Ghana. He is directly responsible for providing strategic and transformational leadership that impacts lives and improves accountability in public service delivery. With over 16 years of experience with the Ghanaian service sector, Mr. Issifu brings his leadership skills to ensure access to quality healthcare while fostering collaborative relationships across industries and organizations. He has a Master of Science in Development Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Development Studies. He also holds a DANIDA international Fellowship Certificate on Democratization and the Human Rights-Based Approach to Development from the International Law Institute (ILI).