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13.02.2009 General News

AIDS boss lauds partners in stabilization of pandemic

By GNA

The Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Professor Sakyi Awuku Amoa, on Thursday said the contribution from the public and private sector, civil society and development partners had helped in achieving a near stabilization of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country.

He said a lot of work had been done by these groups but because most of the works were not documented and published due to lack of funds the public seemed not to know exactly what was happening,

“I tell you with the exception of a few bad nuts, the rest are doing very well in shaping the minds of people in the grassroots,” he said at the launch of a publication on the Education Sector Response to HIV/AIDS in Ghana.

Prof. Amoa commended the ministry for documenting lessons, experiences and best practices, adding that, the setting up of the HIV/AIDS secretariat in the ministry showed the seriousness it attached to the pandemic.

He commended the ministry for streamlining the activities of non-governmental organisations working with schools and intervening in the mess some had caused with information dissemination.

Professor John Anarfi, who conducted the situation analysis of the publication, said the study conducted in November and December 2007 identified HIV/AIDS interventions in the sector, provided strategic information that would facilitate more targeted response and also identified key areas of collaboration among stakeholders.

The publication said in spite of the appreciable effort committed to advocacy and resource mobilization by the National Programme Secretariat, coordination of other players outside the Ministry such as participating NGOs, communities and the District Assemblies seemed very minimal.

The publication also noted that despite the high levels of awareness about the disease and reported attempt to avoid being infected by the youth who were studied, loopholes still existed in the knowledge of the youth about pertinent facts on HIV transmission.

It recommended further education of the youth on the prevention and stigma reduction particularly, promoting lifestyle changes, undertaking effective educational materials development and dissemination.

It also recommended formation of strategic partnership with other players, particular local and national publics.

Mr Ato Essuman, Chief Director of the ministry, said there was no doubt that HIV/AIDS continued to be one of the most serious threats to global stability including progress towards achieving Education For All (EFA).

He said halting the spread of HIV/AIDS was a perquisite for achieving the Millennium Development Goals particularly Goal Two and Three (Achieving universal education and promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women by 2015).

Mr Essuman observed that though the National Surveillance Report (2007) indicated the menace was slowing down it also points to marginal increase in the 15-24 years group from 2.4 in 2006 to 2.6 in 2007.

He said there was therefore the need to prioritize, strengthen and expand programmes targeting the youth especially in the educational sector.

Recognizing the vital role the education sector could play in the prevention of HIV, the sector in 2002 established a full time HIV/Aids secretariat mandated to coordinate and harmonize all HIV/AIDS activities within the sector by developing programmes, mobilizing funds, monitoring and evaluation and conducting HIV/AIDS related research.

Mr. Essuman said this was in fulfilment of the Ghana AIDS Commission Multi-Sectoral Approach and in furtherance of Policy Goal Nine of the Education Strategy Plan 2003-2015, which identified and promoted programmes that would assist in the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

To affirm its commitment to fight the menace, he said, the sector launched the HIV/AIDS Policy Plan and Work Plan for 2006-2010 to give institutional backing and direction to the implementation of activities within the sector.

Teacher-Agent of Dissemination and Change (TAD) programme, he said, was also designed to provide teachers with information of the pandemic as well as equip them with the methodology of teaching HIV/AIDS issues by integrating them in their routine subjects.

It was implemented over a three-year period to accelerate the education sector response, he said, and noted that it had been rated highly and successful by independent evaluators.

Ms. Hilda Eghan, Coordinator of HIV/AIDS Section of the ministry, said the publication was initiated against the backdrop of a number of interventions being undertaken by most NGOs in the sector which posed serious challenges to the newly established HIV/AIDS Secretariat and to help streamline their activities.

She said the launch of the outcomes of the study was consistent with the 2006 Education Sector Global HIV/AIDS Readiness Survey which provided strategic information that would facilitate response and finally propose key areas of collaborating among stakeholders.

The publication is expected to provide direction for resource mobilization having identified intervention gaps that have to be addressed as well as best practices that need to be scaled up.

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