Members of the Social Workers Association of Ghana (SWAG) have called on Government to involve them in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus. The SWAG says although the primary function of social worker is to enhance human well-being and help meet basic human needs of all people, its members have been excluded from the frontline in the fight against the disease.
The Association observes that by the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and the Local Governance Act 936 of 2016, Social Welfare Officers are to play a lead role since they are clothed with the mandate to promote and protect the rights of the vulnerable in the society. They claim that these responsibilities are also specified in the Administrative Instructions Manual and Operational Manual of the Local Government Service.
They regretted that for all these years they have not been represented at the Office of the Local Government Service, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and strangely in the National Response Team on COVID-19 Pandemic.
To SWAG, the exclusion of its members undermines the very roles and functions of Social Work, which include Contact Tracing, Re-unification, Community Mobilization and Sensitization, Psycho-Social Counseling and Support, Education against stigmatization, Medical Social Work, Child and Family Welfare Services and many other equally important services that help with the well-being of the vulnerable in society.
The COVID-19 is a global pandemic and the psychological trauma associated with the viral infection of an individual or a family member cannot be overemphasized. This has led to destabilized families resulting in various kinds of abuses, child delinquency, unemployment, increased number of orphans and vulnerable children, economic hardship on families, and other negative social consequences. These issues undoubtedly call for social workers’ involvement to help address them to make Ghana a better place to live in.
According to SWAG, the under utilization of the services of its members is a drawback on attempts to address the welfare needs of the vulnerable, marginalized and the disadvantaged in Ghana.
Another sensitive issue which Social Workers want the government to be aware of and address swiftly is the recruitment of non- professionals into the Department while, institutions such as; School of Social Work, University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Methodist University and so on are producing professional Social Workers. We are of the view that, these nonprofessionals lack the requisite knowledge, skills and ethics of the Social Work profession.
Again, SWAG is strongly of the view that, ministries are policy formulating bodies so the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGC&SP) is not an exception ministry therefore, it should not be seen as policy implementer.
Social Workers have the technical expertise hence our involvement is a right, and “a right not exercised is a right lost”.