The Upper West Regional Coordinating Council has directed all Municipal and District Focal Persons for HIV/AIDS to use part of funds from the Ghana AIDS Commission to pay the premiums of People Living with HIV/AIDS to enable them to access drugs from health facilities under the National Health Insurance Scheme.
"It has become necessary to pay the premiums of these patients because some of them are so poor that they are finding it extremely difficult to mobilize 72,000 cedis as the basic requirement for joining their District Mutual Health Insurance Schemes.
Alhaji Zaid Tamimu, Regional Focal Person for HIV/AIDS, said this at a regional HIV/AIDS sensitisation forum, which was organized as part of the performance review workshop of the health sector in the Region at Wa on Friday.
He announced that all anti-HIV/AIDS clubs that were already existing in some second cycle schools in the Region would be revived to play lead role as one of the strategies for preventing the spread of the disease.
Last year the Region received 560 million cedis from the Ghana AIDS Commission to fight the disease and give care and support to patients, while DANIDA also supported the three new districts of Wa East, Wa West and Sissala West, with 60 million cedis to build their capacity to fight the pandemic.
Dr Daniel Yayemain, Deputy Regional Director of Health Services, said 28 people died from AIDS in the Region last year out of 298 reported cases as against 22 people who died from the disease from 348 reported cases in 2005.
He announced that the Region has started giving Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) at the Regional Hospital in Wa to be followed by the Jirapa Hospital, while the Nandom Hospital would get that status by the end of the year.
Dr Boamah Boateng of the Wa Regional Hospital said 84 victims of the disease had so far registered with the ART Centre with 33 of them put on treatment while 8 were referred from other hospitals.
The major goal of the ART, he noted was not to cure patients but rather to reduce the rate at which people living with the disease were dying through the improvement of their immune system for a better quality of life.
He urged all people living with disease to use condoms in order to prevent re-infection as that allowed the virus to develop resistance to anti-retroviral drugs.