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22.04.2004 Regional News

More measures needed to fight HIV/AIDS

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Aburi (E/R), April 22, GNA- The Deputy Minister for Health, Mr Moses Dani Baah, has called for the adoption of more strategies, in addition to existing efforts, to respond effectively to the HIV/AIDS in the country.

He regretted that despite the efforts of numerous Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO's), Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) and religious groups in the campaign against the disease, there were increases in new reported cases.

Mr Dani Baah said this in a speech read on his behalf at the inauguration of the local branch of the Gospel Against AIDS Organisation at Aburi on Wednesday.

He stressed the need for fast and decisive "new and better ways" to tackle the pandemic.

He called for stakeholders to assess where they have common grounds and work together to develop strategies, mobilize resources and implement sustained and scaleable programmes.

The Deputy Minister noted that a lot of efforts had gone into raising awareness and knowledge of the HIV/AIDS and the setting up of a monitoring system for the disease, saying the "critical gap" had been the area of care and support for the persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA).

He said to address the concerns from several stakeholders on the introduction of anti-retroviral therapy into the country, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Family Health International of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) had initiated a project in the Manya Krobo district of the Eastern Region to support victims under the "Support and Treatment and Anti-Retroviral Therapy" (START).

The founder of the US-based Gospel Against AIDS organization, Mrs Rosalind Andrew Worthy said her organisation was to work with Friends of Democracy, an Aburi-based NGO, to use the "good words" of the bible to preach abstinence and faithfulness to partners.

She noted that the disease was "hundred per cent preventable", and therefore, the organisation was concentrating only on abstinence and faithfulness without advocating the use of condom and advised the youth to be conscious of their lifestyles.

The Country Co-ordinator of the organisation, Rev. Samuel Agyei, said poverty had been identified as a major factor in the spread of the disease and so the Friends of Democracy had initiated pineapple farming at Oboadaka for the youth to make a living.