The social and cultural factors that influence the care of children orphaned by AIDS in the Ashanti and Eastern regions of Ghana

The number of children below 18 years in Ghana who have become orphans because their mother, father or both have died from AIDS is growing. These orphans usually experience a wide range of problems, including those related to nutrition, education, physical and sexual abuse, emotional and psychological distress, and discrimination. Researchers sought to look at the social and cultural practices that influence the care of these orphans in the Ashanti and Eastern regions of Ghana, where the number of HIV cases have remained high.

The researchers held interviews and focus group discussions in the two regions. They spoke with orphan children, non-orphan children, female and male adults, female and male caregivers, people living with HIV and AIDS, and traditional leaders. The researchers collected information on how orphans are cared for and issues that affect the care of orphans, including cultural practices.

Researchers found that many cultural and social factors affect the care of orphans, notably the time and money available to take proper care of them. Cultural practices that influence how well orphans are taken care of by their caregivers include those related to traditional rituals and ceremonies, funerals, festivals, puberty rituals, marriage and naming ceremonies, inheritance practices, and the practice of taking multiple wives. Funerals, for example, can be very expensive and take up a lot of time, which leaves caregivers with less money and time to take care of and supervise orphans. Social factors that affect how well caregivers take care of orphans include the excessive use of alcohol and drugs, pressure to keep up with fashion trends, and night club attendance. Excessive use of alcohol and drugs, for example, can be expensive, take time away from taking care of orphans, and lead to abuse. Orphans also often face discrimination from their caregivers or peers because they are seen as poor and are accused of being witches because they lost their parents. 

Recommendations and Conclusions
To make sure that cultural and social practices do not have negative effects on orphans, these factors should be taken into account when developing policies and programs for orphans. 

Title:  Qualitative study on the socio-cultural determinants of care of children orphaned by AIDS in the Ashanti and Eastern regions of Ghana
Authors: Lily Yarney, Chuks Mba and Emmanuel Asampong