Dec 31, 2018 News
By Kemol King
Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) is a non-governmental organisation that was started in 1973 by Olga Byrne, as an educational, training and family planning institution. The association’s mandate focuses on the promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). It touts itself as the leading SRHR provider and advocate in Guyana. GRPA demands full human rights for all people, and pushes for urgent action to address the needs of marginalized sexual and gender minorities. GRPA is a member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a group of over 140 associations working in 152 countries, with another 24 partners working in 19 countries. IPPF provides SRHR services around the world, fighting for sexual rights. GRPA is fully accredited with IPPF.
The Executive Director of GRPA is Renata Chuck-A-Sang.
As the leading sexual and reproductive health services provider in the country, GRPA has had an incredibly successful 2018. In an interview with Kaieteur News, Programmes Officer Jairo Rodrigues talked about the work the non-governmental organisation has been doing all year.
What services has GRPA provided to Guyanese in 2018?
GRPA managed to provide 3,386 HIV testing and counseling services, 13,475 testing and information services on sexually transmitted infections (herpes, Chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea), 2913 education, sensitization and counseling services related to reducing gender-based violence, and 22,088 contraceptive services and information.
Notably, for Cancer Awareness Package, the organisation’s biggest 2018 promotion, GRPA served 1,380 clients, providing 14,282 services. In total, they have detected and treated 2,562 cases of cervical cancer and 1,002 services related to prostate cancer screening.
Capacity Building and Outreach Services
GRPA’s Gender-based Violence and Youth project, supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, saw them capturing 166 young persons in community outreaches conducted with ChildLink in Crane and Patentia in the Essequibo Islands – West Demerara Region, and Sophia in Greater Georgetown.
Two hundred and eighty nine young persons in six city-schools (Bishops’ High, St. Joseph’s High, Brickdam Secondary, North Georgetown Secondary, Charlestown Secondary, and Houston Secondary) received education sessions on gender-based violence, which focused on physical abuse, verbal and sexual abuse.
Seventeen young people benefitted from information sessions on sexual rights and services, and 10 young women were engaged on legal counselling. Added to community outreaches and interventions with youth, there was a social engagement for the public on Gender-based violence.
Of their 2018 Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) programme, 473 students in total benefitted from CSE sessions. The 2018 CSE curriculum focused on values and personal awareness; healthy relationships, sexuality education; puberty and adolescent reproductive health; sexual health; Abstinence; safe sex and responsibility (family planning); sexual abuse, the law and support services; human rights; sex and gender; Gender-based violence and gender justice. The CSE programme reached 253 males and 220 females from the following schools: Brickdam Secondary, Christ Church, F.E. Pollard Primary, Goed Fortuin Primary, the Juvenile Holding Centre, Open Doors Centre for the Disabled, St. George’s and Tutorial High.
The 2018 programme reached a total of 1,027 persons, 964 being youth under the age of 24.
Sixteen youth were trained peer-educators on Sexuality Education. Sexuality Information sessions were conducted at the Guyana School of Agriculture, New Opportunity Corp, Stella Maris Primary School, Guyana Prison Service (to officers, officer-in-training and male and female prisoners of the New Amsterdam Prison), West Demerara High School Career Fair, Full Gospel Throne Room Church Career Fair, Bina Hill Institute and Annai Secondary School, schools on the Essequibo Coast (Cotton Field Secondary, Abram Zuil Secondary, Johanna Cecelia Secondary and Anna Regina Multilateral School).
There were also sexual health and sexuality workshops and seminars for faith leaders, youth and the public.
What have been GRPA’s most notable collaborations in 2018?
“[GRPA’s achievements have been] made possible with partnerships with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) who supports our main Programming; and collaborations with the ASPIRE Youth Network, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Protection, Ministry of Public Security and the Guyana Prison Service, and the Youth Advocacy Movement (the youth arm) of the GRPA.”
“Collaborations in 2018 were made with Childlink, SASOD and the Guyana LGBT Coalition, Women’s Wednesdays, and Girls Guides Association as civil society partners and groups.”
“A major collaboration for GRPA in 2018 was with the Guyana LGBT Coalition (The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, the Guyana Trans United and the Guyana Rainbow Foundation) for the Guyana LGBT Pride Festival. GRPA was an NGO Partner and fully supported LGBT Pride Festival by engaging our clients on LGBT rights, social media campaigns, hosting a Pride Sports and Health Fair as an official Pride event, promoting a LGBT Package which included free health check-ups and discounted services for members of the LGBT community. GRPA also participated in the first ever LGBT Pride Parade.”
Where does GRPA see itself needing the most improvement?
“GRPA needs to improve on its service provision outside of Region 4. We recognise that there is a need for sexual and reproductive health services particularly in rural and hinterland areas.”
“GRPA will also work towards improving its brand recognition in the community particularly as it relates to what the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association does.”
How instrumental has YAM been toward the fulfillment of GRPA’s mandate?
“GRPA is fully committed to youth development and involvement in Guyana. Our youth programme, Youth Advocacy Movement, focused on the coordination and implementation of gender-based violence awareness project as well as the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education in schools and corporate settings. The Youth Advocacy Movement participated and facilitated in those GBV and CSE projects as well as our outreach activities, community engagements, and education sessions. We would like to be more pro-active as it relates to advocacy around youth sexual and reproductive health access and rights.”
The President of YAM is Kobe Juwan Smith.
How does GRPA manage to provide affordable SRH services? Who’s funding GRPA?
“GRPA has a strong local, regional and international support base for our work. Our major donor is International Planned Parenthood Federation, of which GRPA is a member. Other donors include the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Health, the Government of Canada through the Canada Fund for Livelihood Initiatives, Rotary Club of Georgetown, our clients and other corporate partners like Sterling Products, Massay Supermarkets etc.”
Who are your doctors, counsellors, etc.?
“Dr. Pedro Hernandez Paez is the Medical Services Manager and Doctor of the GRPA Family Wellness Centre. Dr. Chand is our Gynaecologist. Ms. Arlene Harmon is our Psycho-Social Support Counsellor of the association. Other members of staff are trained in peer-counselling and mental health support. We also refer clients to other counsellors in our network as needed.”
GRPA provides a unique form of contraceptive, the Jadelle implant.
IS GRPA the only provider of the Jadelle contraceptive in Guyana? How has the introduction of that contraceptive influence the quality of contraceptive services you provide?
“Yes, GRPA is the only sole provider of this Merck product in Guyana. The implant as a form of female contraception is a very popular method for young women who would like to delay pregnancy for up to five years. It is a reversible long-term form of contraception. Both the product and the insertion process are available at GRPA. This has greatly improved the contraception options for women in Guyana.”
What are GRPA’s plans for 2019?
Who constitutes the team of managers and leaders of GRPA?
“The Management team of GRPA consists of Ms. Renata Chuck-A-Sang as Executive Director of GRPA, Ms. Salima Bacchus-Hinds, Programmes Manager, Dr. Pedro Hernandez Paez is Medical Services Manager and Ms. Arlene Wrong-Chaturia is our Finance and Operations Manager.”
What would GRPA want Guyana to know about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights?
“Sexual and Reproductive Health is a right and should not be neglected. Everyone has a responsibility to safeguard their bodies and should do regular check-ups especially if they are sexually active, seeking to delay pregnancy, terminate pregnancies safely or seeking medical help in conceiving. It is a human right and a sexual right to receive the highest attainable standard of health.”
“GRPA offers full Family Wellness health services in our clinic. Affordable testing services for Cervical, prostate, testicular and breast cancers as well as a range of tests for sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV, Herpes. We also do drug testing for employment and insurance purposes. We provide general laboratory services for annual school check-ups, food-handlers tests. We have well-trained and qualified medical professionals to provide ante-natal care and gynaecological services.”
“GRPA also offers counseling and psycho-social support for couples in relationships, family matters, on sexuality and gender diversity, Gender-Based Violence, stress and mental health support.”
“GRPA Programmes offers sensitivity training and education on gender equality, gender justice, sexuality and gender diversity, Sexuality Education which includes sexual health and contraception use.”
“All these services are offered in a safe, comfortable, confidential, professional, youth and LGBT friendly environment.”
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