Cape Coast, June 11, GNA - Dr Aaron Offei, Central Regional Director of Health Services on Friday said the regional health directorate has secured two million dollars from the United Nations Population Fund and European Commission to help strengthen community based reproductive health services including HIV/AIDS.
He said the money would be used at the district level to provide equipment and other facilities that would help address infant and maternal mortality, which is very high in the region.
Dr Offei said this at the end of a five-day HIV/AIDS counselling workshop for Queen mothers in the Central region at Cape Coast. The workshop organised by the Life Relief Foundation in collaboration with the UN Gender System Programme was under the theme "The Role of Queen Mothers in HIV/AIDS Counselling".
It was to equip the participants with knowledge and skills in HIV/AIDS counselling as well as discuss the role of cultural institution in the fight against AIDS.
Dr Offei expressed concern about the alarming rate of HIV/AIDS infections in the region, stressing that it has a prevalence rate of 5.4 per cent against the national rate of 3.6.
DR Offei said apart from high HIV/AIDS infections, the region was also saddled with poverty, infant and maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy and urged the Queen mothers to come out with pragmatic programmes that would help address the situation, since the Ghana Health Services cannot do it alone.
Mr Muniru Arafat Nuhu, Municipal Chief Executive also expressed concern about the high infection rates of HIV/AIDS in the region, of which the Cape Coast municipality has a prevalence rate of 7.2 per cent, which he stressed was on the high side and urged the queen mothers to use the skills they have acquired to change the situation He further expressed concern about the way people attribute the disease to curses and supernatural powers and also shun and stigmatised those who openly declare their HIV/AIDS status.
Mr Nuhu pointed out that, since there was no cure for the disease yet, it was imperative to concentrate on counselling, since it was one of the most effective way to fight the pandemic and urged traditional rulers, NGOs, religious bodies to join in the fight against the disease.
Mrs Joan Opare, National Programme Manager of UN System Gender Programme, on her part, said the gender implication of HIV/AIDS should not be taken for granted if the disease is to be eradicated from the society and tasked the Queen mothers to constantly educate their people on the disease.
She said her outfit was always ready to support such workshops, stressing that, " gender equality can only be attained with a health population devoid of the disastrous effects of HIV/AIDS."
Mr Michael Essandoh, regional coordinating director who presided, urged the queen mothers to support the district assemblies to implement policies that would help curb the spread of the disease. 11 June 04