Don’t discriminate against key populations - Health professionals advised

Healthcare professionals have been advised to stop discriminating against their clients, especially key populations.

This is because key populations who are highly at risk of contracting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) mostly have challenges seeking medical services due to stigma.


These populations include people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and prisoners. 

These were some points highlighted at a workshop organised by Penplusbytes, a not-for-profit organisation, to orient journalists on inequality and inequity in healthcare facilities in the country.


Participant accessing the P4H dashboard


The workshop was held in Accra was under the People for Health (P4H), consortium a five year project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and being implemented by the Ghana News Agency (GNA), SEND Ghana and Penplusbytes to ensure quality healthcare in the country.



Speaking at the workshop on Tuesday, the Programmes Manager -Innovations at the Penplusbytes, Mr. Kwabena Tabiri, opined that most people, due to peculiar health conditions, have been criticised by healthcare providers in the country.


“Meanwhile the healthcare providers are there to provide services to us patients and not to pass judgments on us,” he stated.


Judgments and criticisms, he said, could result in people’s inability to visit healthcare facilities for critical testing, care and treatment services.



A Communications Officer with the Ghana AIDS Commission, Ms Patricia Anum-Dorhuso, told journalists to learn and use preferred terminologies in their reportage.


She said choice of words by journalists when reporting HIV related stories sometimes did not only sound derogatory but also promoted stigma.

For instance, she said, journalist should stop referring to persons living with HIV as AIDS victims, stating, “use AIDS only when referring to a person with a clinical diagnosis of AIDS”.


Ms Anum-Dorhuso also said that instead of fight against AIDS journalists should use response to AIDS or AIDS response.


“Avoid other combatant language such as struggle, battle or war, unless in direct quotation,” she added. 

According to her the use of these words or phrases stigmatised people and as a result they were unable to disclose their identity for appropriate support.


Group picture of participants with P4H Team


She noted that underreporting was common within key populations due to fear of stigma, backlash and discrimination.


Ms Anum-Dorhuso therefore advised media persons to refrain from using such words.