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01.06.2004 Regional News

GOPDC gets workplace HIV/AIDS Committee

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Kwae, (E/R) June 1, GNA - A workplace committee to sensitise workers on the existence of HIV/AIDS and to help check its spread has been inaugurated at the Ghana Oil Palm Development Company (GOPDC) at Kwae in the Eastern Region.

Inaugurating the committee at the company's plantation, the Kwaebibirem District Chief Executive, Mr. Yaw Yiadom-Boakye regretted that even though a lot has been done by government, non-governmental and Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) to create awareness about the existence of the diseases, the major problem was that people were not prepared to change their sexual behaviour.

The situation, Mr. Yiadom-Boakye noted, if left unchecked was likely to derail efforts being made to bring the alarming rate at which the diseases was spreading under control. The DCE emphasised that the disease was self-inflicted and one could decide not to have it.

He therefore, challenged the committee members not only to intensify the awareness creation, but also strive to appeal to the conscience of their colleagues to change their sexual behaviour by adopting workable strategies.

Mr. Yiadom-Boakye said the socio-economic impact of the disease was enormous since it puts stress on health facilities and breeds orphans who sometime become street children and drug addicts.

This class of people the DCE noted, if not properly handled and brought up, later on in life become embittered and disgruntled, and visit their anger on the society by becoming armed robbers and rapists. He said the Ghana AIDS Commission has through the assembly released 125 million cedis to eight CBOs to undertake educational and sensitisation programme on the disease.

Another eight, Mr. Yiadom-Boakye disclosed would soon receive their share of 15.5 million cedis each to undertake a similar exercise. The Executive Director of the Ghana Employers Association (GEA), Mrs. Rose Karikari noted that HIV/AIDS was one of the most simplest preventable pandemics but regretted that it was coming the most difficult since it had to do with behaviour change.

Mrs. Karikari said since the negative impact of the disease on business and economic prosperity was very huge, the business community could not afford to ignore it.

She therefore threw a challenge to the broader business community to see the sensitisation of workers on the diseases as a standard business practice.

The Director of Operations of the company, Mr. Gert Vandersmissen assured workers that the company was prepared to take up the cost of anyone who wanted to know his or her HIV/AIDS status through the voluntary counselling and testing.

Mr. Vandersmissen said GOPDC attached great importance to the sensitisation programme and would therefore give the committee all the necessary encouragement and support to carry out its work to achieve the desired impact.