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13.02.2009 General News

AIDS Partners Laud In Stabilisation Of Pandemic

The Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Professor Sakyi Awuku Amoa, yesterday said the contribution from the public and private sector, civil society and development partners has helped in achieving a near stabilisation of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in the country.
He said a lot of work have been done by these groups but because most of the works are not documented and published due to lack of funds the public seem not to know exactly what is 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 and AIDS in Ghana.
Prof Amoa  also commended the Ministry for documenting lessons, experiences and best practices, adding that, the setting up of the HIV and AIDS secretariat in the Ministry shows the seriousness it attach to the pandemic.
He praised the Ministry for streamlining the activities of non-governmental organisations working with schools and intervening in the lapses some have 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 and AIDS interventions in the sector, provided strategic information that will 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 mobilisation by the National Programme Secretariat, co-ordination of other players outside the Ministry such as participating NGOs, communities and the District Assemblies seem very minimal.
The publication also noted that despite the high levels of awareness about the pandemic and reported attempt to avoid being infected by the youth who are studied, loopholes still exist 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, particularly local and national publics.
Mr Ato Essuman, Chief Director of the Ministry, said there is no doubt that HIV and AIDS continue 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 and AIDS is a perquisite for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) particularly Goals 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 is 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 is therefore the need to prioritise, strengthen and expand programmes targeting the youth especially in the educational sector.
Recognising the vital role, the education sector can play in the prevention of HIV, the sector in 2002 established a full time HIV and AIDS secretariat mandated to co-ordinate and harmonise all HIV and AIDS activities within the sector by developing programmes, mobilising funds, monitoring and evaluation and conducting HIV and AIDS related research.
Mr Essuman said this is 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 will assist in the prevention of HIV and AIDS.
   To affirm its commitment to fight the menace, he said, the sector launched the HIV and 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 and AIDS issues by integrating them in their routine subjects.
It is implemented over a three-year period to accelerate the education sector response, he said, and noted that it has been rated highly and successful by independent evaluators.
Ms Hilda Eghan, Co-ordinator of HIV and 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 and AIDS Secretariat and to help streamline their activities.
She said the launch of the outcomes of the study is consistent with the 2006 Educational Sector Global HIV and AIDS Readiness Survey which provided strategic information that will facilitate response and finally propose key areas of collaborating among stakeholders.
The publication is expected to provide direction for resource mobilisation having identified intervention gaps that have to be addressed as well as best practices that need to be scaled up.