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12.05.2004 General News

HIV/AIDS response needs knowledge and skills - Amoa

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Accra, May 12, GNA - Professor Sakyi Awuku Amoa, Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, on Wednesday said the challenges of the HIV/AIDS pandemic were formidable and needed to be tackled with knowledge, skill and ingenuity.

"While the national response is utilizing community social mobilisation to address it, we also need to recognize and support the immense role bio-medical methods can play."

Prof Amoa said this at the opening of a three-day first Scientific Conference of the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS) in Accra, which is under the theme: "Research and Medical Practice" is to enable medical researchers to provide an update of their work and also bridge the gap between scientific research and medical practice in the country. Topics to be discussed include: Importance of Medical Data; The Problem of Headache; Neonatal Jaundice; Sexually Transmitted Infections; HIV/AIDS; Maternal Mortality; Cancer; Obesity; Malaria and Cervico-Virginal Papilloma Virus in Women.

Prof. Amoa said Ghana could effectively address the numerous challenges HIV/AIDS posed if she could deploy the skills and knowledge of her medical researchers together.

He noted that research had an effective role to play in the implementation of the national response to fight the pandemic and the recent HIV/AIDS research conference revealed a number of researches conducted by health and behavioural scientists.

"Such people need to be encouraged to influence the national response and provide a more focused direction for the fight", he said adding, several challenges needed to be addressed in the areas of behavioural change, stigma and discrimination, voluntary counselling and testing, treatment and care, nutrition, community support, private sector involvement and research.

He explained that it was unfortunate that the majority of the youth between the ages of 15 years and 25 years, who were most vulnerable, still denied the existence of the disease and continued to engage in risky lifestyles.

"The youth and students have become so promiscuous and sexually active due to the pornographic pictures and films they watch and see in magazines, on the Internet; TV screens and above all the negative 'hippie' lifestyles which they consider as modern. The situation is worsened when some religious leaders do not appreciate the need for the youth and students, who are vulnerable to avoid engaging in unprotected sex."

Prof. Amoa expressed regret about the non-involvement of the private sector to appreciate the fact that HIV/AIDS could destroy their business if workplace policies were not put in place.

"The Commission has taken up this issue seriously and is actively carrying out advocacy work with the Ghana Employers Association and other stakeholders to get the active involvement of the private sector in the national response."

Prof Cliff Tagoe, Dean of UGMS, said the School would ensure that the institution of the annual conference was made a permanent feature on the school's calendar to foster a vibrant research culture to encourage more medical students to take part.

He commended the planning committee members for making the dream a reality.

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