Chiefs want roles in fight against AIDS



3/31/2009 5:43:26 PM -

The Northern Regional House of Chiefs has observed that Ghana can successfully win her fight against the spread of the deadly HIV/AIDS, if traditional rulers are encouraged to join the campaign.

According to the House, traditional rulers command a lot of respect and trust of the people under their jurisdiction, and could therefore serve as catalysts of change in the lives of the people, especially in their sexual behaviours.

The Registrar of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs, Mr. John Babinah, made the statement at a forum organised for the chiefs and people of Tatale, a border town in the Zabzugu-Tatale District.

It was to sensitise traditional rulers in the area, to subsequently educate their people on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The forum, which brought together all the youth groups, associations, market women, hairdressers, barbers and some opinion leaders, was sponsored by the Ghana AIDS Commission.

Similar fora were earlier organised by the House of Chiefs for the people of Mamprugu, Gonja and the Nanumba Traditional areas, which were also sponsored by the AIDS Commission.

Mr. John Babinah said that the HIV/AIDS disease had for the past 23 years been a setback to the socio-economic development of Ghana.

Many of the country's energetic youth, between the ages of 15 and 45, he indicated, had either been struck down or killed by the disease, while others ahave been rendered orphans.

He explained that the Northern Regional House of Chiefs was taking the initiative to empower and encourage the traditional leaders to take a centre stage in the fight against the HIV/AIDS, because they had the ability and the wisdom to transform the youth in their areas.

According to Mr. Babinah, it was unacceptable for the country to sideline the chiefs, who were in almost every city, town, community or village in Ghana, unlike the District Chief Executives who were only at the district capitals.

The Registrar was optimistic that Ghana would soon overcome the HIV/AIDS prevalence, and advised the people show compassion, love and care to people who were already living with the disease.

The Northern Regional Population Officer, Alhassan Issahaku Amadu, who was the main facilitator of the forum, also spoke on how to mainstream HIV/AIDS into the local traditional system.

Mr. Issahaku Amadu also called for a stop to unprotected sex, most of which, he said, had resulted in the spread of HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies.

He appealed to the traditional authorities to stop some of the cultural practices that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially “mass shaving” during funerals and female genital mutilation among others.

Some of the participants also took turns to ask questions on HIV/AIDS, and pledged to advocate for a change.