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11.03.2009 Health

Chief encourages community to help the sick

By gna

The Chief of Kongo, in the Upper East Region, Sapaat-Naab David Dok Dong, is sensitizing people in the community to contribute food stuffs during this year's harvest period, that would be used to help people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and others who are too sick to work.

This, he explained, would help unite the community and discourage stigmatization and discrimination of PLWHA.

"It would also make the people feel more responsible for their neighbours and to want to help support the needy in other ways," he said.

Sapaat-Naab Dok Dong was speaking at the Upper East regional celebration of the International Women's Day in Bolgatanga on Tuesday, with the theme; 'Sharing the caring for the Future' and focused on the burden of caring for people living with HIV/AIDS and the role of men.

The Chief condemned the act where some married women who tested positive of HIV or showed symptoms of AIDS were being sacked from their matrimonial homes and said by custom many communities in the region regarded marriage as a sacred union that should not be broken by sickness.

He urged other Chiefs and community leaders to help educate the people to support each other in times of need and to change their sex lives in order to avoid getting infected.

Naba Johnson Awuni, Chief of Yorogo, a community near Bolgatanga noted that empowering women with education and gainful employment would help enlighten them and give them the ability to support themselves and also stand up for their rights.

He called on District Assemblies and agencies working to promote the welfare of girls and women, to step up their activities in girl child education and adult education for women, saying, "Give them a chance to realize their full potential in education".

Madam Agnes Atayila, a Senior Health Worker expressed concern at the increasing number of people in the Bolgatanga Municipality that were getting AIDS related illnesses and would need more care-givers to take care of them.

She said the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS infections in the Municipality was 4.6 per cent while that of the region stood at 2 per cent as compared to the national figure of 1.6 per cent.

Madam Atayila noted that it was time families started involving boys and men in the care of the sick as the burden was getting too much for the girls and women, explaining that some families were likely to take girls out of school to take care of the sick instead of encouraging the boys to give a helping hand.

"As every human being needs two eyes to function normally, it takes a man and a woman, a boy and a girl to take responsibility of care in the household and community at large to reduce the burden on girls so that they can develop their career opportunities and contribute to national development," she said.

Madam Margaret Mary Issaka, a development worker, suggested that care givers of terminally ill people should be educated on the illnesses of the persons they are caring for so that they would know better what to do for the sick persons.

She said the work of caregivers should be recognized and given high value, and appealed to the Ghana AIDS Commission and NGOs working in that field to give attention to them so that their clients would get the maximum benefit from their services.