The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has directed that all lepers in the country should be added to the list of beneficiaries of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme this year, the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has stated.
He explained that the move was part of the government’s efforts to ensure that no category of vulnerable persons was left behind in social protection programmes.
He stated this when he addressed the opening session of a three-day inaugural conference and installation of the governor of District 418 of the Lions Club, Ghana.
The conference, which was held under the auspices of the International Association of Lions Clubs, was held on the theme: “Head, heart, hands and mind, together we serve better”.
“Over the past two years, the government has been working hard to roll out social protection programmes to support groups. Only two days ago, the President directed that all lepers in the country are entitled to LEAP allowances and so immediate steps are being taken to put them on the policy,” the Vice-President said.
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The announcement by the government has come against the backdrop of calls by some advocates for social intervention programmes to be made available to lepers, especially their feeding grants.
The Chairman of the Ghana Lepers Council, Very Rev. Father Andrew Campbell, has been a lead advocate to the government and other stakeholders to support lepers to make life meaningful for them.
There are more than 1,000 cured lepers in the country. Of the number, there are 125 in Ho in the Volta Region, and 100 in the Northern, Central, Ashanti and Upper West regions.
The Weija Leprosarium in the Greater Accra Region is also home to a number of cured lepers who are yet to be integrated into the larger community.
The Vice-President gave an assurance that more would be done to improve on the condition of cured lepers and other vulnerable groups.
He highlighted some social intervention programmes that the government had rolled out, including the removal of tax on head porters, increasing the Disability Fund by
50 per cent, Free Senior High School and the scaling up of the LEAP, and noted that those moves were meant to improve the standard of living of marginalised groups.
Lions Club lauded
Dr Bawumia commended the Lions Club for the important role the club had played to support the development agenda of the country over the years, especially in the education and health sectors, as well as the contribution of the international body in dealing with issues of blindness and educational infrastructure and facilities.
He also asked the club to extend its presence to all the 16 regional capitals in the country so that they could make more impact on the people with their humanitarian works, and jovially said “today we will launch one region, one Lion Club”, drawing laughter and applause from the gathering.
Dr Bawumia observed that Ghana, like Africa, had a youthful population with its attendant strain on resources, and urged members of the Lions Club to increase their youth development programmes to prepare the youth for the future.
He said that was the best approach to dealing with tendencies such as drug abuse, irregular migration and poverty among the youth.
“Ghana must be determined to lay a solid foundation for young people because when the youth are given the right support and mentorship, they will become the game-changers for our development,” he said.
The Governor of the newly inaugurated District 418 of Lions Club, Ghana, Dr Kwaku Mensa-Bonsu, said the pre-occupation of the new district would be to create more clubs in all parts of the country.
He urged the members of the club to work hard to revive the spirit of lionism as it used to be when members felt a sense of belonging and pride in being part of the family, and also give of their best in supporting humanity.