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01.12.2009 Health

Ahead of World Aids Day

Ahead of World Aids Day
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…PEPFAR and Ghana partner to fight HIV/AIDS
The governments of Ghana and the United States will commemorate World Aids Day tomorrow, December 1, by signing into action the 2010 United States President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) Implementation Plan. The plan sets out the framework for disbursing USD 74 million over the next five years.

As part of the events leading up to the commemoration and in line with the U.S Agency for International Development's (USAID) efforts at helping to fight the disease, a group of journalists were hosted by the Opportunities Industrialization Centre International (OICI),one of the numerous institutions which are helping in the fight against HIV/ AIDS through various schemes and modules from the support of the agency, to witness at first hand, how Ghanaians have benefited from these funds through HIV counseling, Food for Peace Programmes, and scholarships for vocational training for orphans and venerable children (OVC's).

Addressing the journalists on behalf of the OIC, Mrs. Lucy Owusu Darko, senior programmes officer of the institution expressed appreciation for the support of agencies like USAID whose contributions have helped in the fight against the pandemic. She said, “With funds coming in from the USAID, we've been able to undertake initiatives that cater and support Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC's). The numbers are there for all to see. Our work has dramatically improved since USAID came on board”.

She said she was grateful for the assistance they get from corporate bodies and called for more of such pacts and agreements to be channeled into the fight against HIV/AIDS. OIC she said is happy to put smiles on the faces of the disadvantaged children through their 'HOPE' programme. “Through the assistance from USAID, the OIC operates our HIV/AIDS care and support programme, 'HOPE' in four regions namely, Greater Accra Region, Ashanti, Eastern and Western. Like the name of the program suggests, we give these children to hang on to hope and inspiration to”.

Opportunities Industrialization Centres International (OIC), currently assists some PLWHA's and OVC's in vocational skills training and other income generating ventures like carpentry, draftsmanship, plumbing, electrical, farming and auto mechanics. Currently, they work with other bodies that are committed to the fight against the pandemic. The Manya Krobo Queen Mothers Association is an example of one of the bodies they work with to bring relief to families and homes. In Accra, OIC is responsible for a good number of students who are undergoing training in various skills.

Some of the students at the institution in an interview with The Mail expressed their gratitude to USAID for their support but asked for more. Dominic Appiah, a supervisor at the institution The Mail, learning material are inadequate, a situation he said, compels them to make do with the little they have at their disposal. “I will prefer a bigger workshop. The rooms we use for the practicals, does not match up to the numbers here. We really need help from corporate bodies, other than that - we are compelled to work under these conditions”.

World AIDS Day, is observed worldwide on December 1 each year, and is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic which is caused by the spread of HIV infection. Governments all over the world, attach a lot importance to the disease and its prevalence rate as it threatens the livelihood of the populace killing some 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite efforts at reducing the devastating effect of the pandemic through the introduction of and, access to antiretroviral drugs (ARV's), it is still taking heavy tolls in many countries.

PEPFAR becomes one of those stop gap measures directed at helping to fight the disease through governments and organized institutions. It was launched in 2003. PEPFAR plans to work in partnership with host nations to support treatment for at least 3 million people, prevention of 12 million new infections and care for 12 million people including 5 million orphans and vulnerable children.

On July 30, 2008, the United States government signed into law PEPFAR, authorizing up to $48 billion over the next 5 years to combat global HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. To meet these goals and build sustainable local capacity, PEPFAR will support training of at least 140,000 new health care workers in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care.

Other U.S agencies implementing PEPFAR programmes include the United States Peace Corps and the Departments of Defense, State and Health and Health and Human Services/ Centers for Disease Control.

By: OBED BOAFO-The Accra Mall
Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa /

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