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Religious’ Vaccine Awareness Program in Ghana to Target “those on the margins of society”

Members of the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious in Ghana (CMSRGH) with the Apostolic Nuncio in Ghana, Archbishop Henryk Jagodzinski. Credit: Newswatchgh.com

The COVID-19 vaccine awareness program under the auspices of the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious in Ghana (CMSRGH) seeks to target the marginalized, a report following the official launch of the initiative last week indicates.  

In the Monday, October 18 report, the nature of the countrywide awareness program that was launched in Ghana’s Kumasi Archdiocese on October 15 in view of reducing the impact of the Novel Coronavirus on individuals and families in Ghana” is outlined.

“For a period of eight months, the conference, as part of its pastoral concern and responsibilities, will ensure that vaccine reaches and is accepted by everyone especially those on the margins of society who do not have the right to information and that there is an equitable and effective COVID-19 distribution within the country,” the report published by NewsWatch GH, a Ghanaian online publication, indicates.

Established on 23 August 2013, CMSRGH brings together women and men leaders of Catholic Religious Orders and Societies of Apostolic Life in Ghana with the purpose of fostering deeper collaboration between those at the helm of various Religious Congregations in the West African country. 

Members of the CMSRGH spearheading the COVID-19 vaccine awareness program under the theme, “Religious in Ghana Strengthening Covid19 Response”, are realizing the initiative in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

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Women and men Religious involved in the eight-month program are expected to partner with private and government entities in Ghana to ensure “Comprehensive Vaccination Education and advocacy” in the West African nation, the report indicates.

They are also to “advocate for equitable vaccine distribution within the country,” the October 18 report further indicates.

Any emerging issues pertaining COVID-19 “vaccine confidence, access, and uptake” are to be addressed during the awareness program, which seeks to use “the Vatican toolkit to combat misinformation and disinformation related to COVID-19 to ensure accurate information is distributed about lifesaving vaccines,” the report says.

The program will also involve the “distribution of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) to selected Health Centers in Vulnerable communities” as well as offering “psychosocial support and training for selected health workers,” according to the October 18 report.

CMSRGH President who spoke during the October 15 launch of the eight-month program highlighted the background of the initiative that involves members of Religious Orders and Societies of Apostolic Life serving in Ghana.

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“Discerning the subtle gem of God’s message behind this global phenomenon, we as religious men and women were forced to pause, rethink, and be more creative in expressing our charisms today in the face of the pandemic,” Sr. Mercy Boateng has been quoted as saying. 

In 2020, Sr. Boateng added, “women religious in Ghana who hold a unique position in communities they serve – as trusted, beloved, human-centred and critical providers – collaborated with the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious with financial support from Conrad Hilton Foundation to make various Covid -19 Response Interventions.”

Also speaking during the October 15 launch that was graced by the Apostolic Nuncio in Ghana, Archbishop Henryk Jagodzinski, and the Local Ordinary Kumasi Archdiocese, Archbishop Gabriel Justice Anokye, the Executive Director of the Christian Health Association of Ghana, (CHAG) acknowledged with appreciation the role women and men Religious are playing in addressing COVID-19 challenges in the West African nation.

“Indeed, of the 40 CHAG Health Facilities repurposed for COVID response actions, the Catholic Church-owned or operated, and continue to manage over 50% of all COVID cases recorded, amidst the continuity of essential routine healthcare services. And most of these designated facilities serving as frontline Case Management Centres were, and being still, handled by Religious Sisters and Brothers,” Dr. Peter K. Yeboah has been quoted as saying in the October 18 report.