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08.05.2008 Health

Civil Society Holds Forum On HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health

By Times Reporter - newtimesonline.com

A consultation on Integrating Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and HIV/AIDS has been held in Accra.

The one-day session which was under the theme: 'Integrating reproductive health and HIV in Ghana, the role of civil society organisations,' sought to solicit broad, multi-sectoral commitment to the integration of SRH and HIV during the development of the Global Fund Round 8 proposal.

The proposal requires that Ghana, as part of its HIV/AIDS response initiative integrates SRH and HIV. It is in this regard that the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) yesterday organised the consultation to mobilise and sensitise Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on the integration and also to institute mechanism to monitor the content and process of the integration.

The Global Fund is an international health financing scheme and the consultation was to encourage the CSOs to submit proposals to undertake intervention activities under the programme.

Some of the target groups of the programme are commercial sex workers, prisoners and prison staff and HIV patients.

The intervention areas include information, education, and communication, behaviour change communication, counselling and testing, condom promotion and community mobilisation.

Mr Eric Pwadura, Communications Manager of the Ghana Aids Commission, said the commission has constituted a task force led by Mrs Virginia Ofosu-Amaah, Chairman of the National Population Council, to determine modalities for integrating reproductive health and HIV into the health delivery system.

He said reproductive health and HIV are now of topical concern and need to be given priority attention.

'As we know, most HIV infections are sexually transmitted or associated with pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding,' he said, and added that as more and more women and girls continue to be infected by the virus and as the epidemic has taken on a feminist characteristics, it could not be addressed effectively without due attention given to sexual and reproductive health.

The Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, Alima Mahama, said the prevention of mother-to-child transmission as part of antenatal care and the renewed focus on family planning are examples of policy interventions of the integration.

She said the exercise should be an opportunity to leverage resources for investing in women and girls since in any discourse or sexual and reproductive health, the vulnerable and victims are often women and girls.

The Executive Director of the ARHR, Vicky Okine, said the initiative was timely since it recognised the need for integration both at the global and local levels.

She said the fund also recommends 'dual track financing,' which means that grants should be awarded to both government and civil-society implementers.

The chairman of the Country Coordinating Mechanising, Louis Agbe, called on CSOs to endeavour to meet the deadline for the submission of proposals under the fund which is May 23.

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