18.06.2004 General News

Ministry of Justice organises durbar on HIV/AIDS

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Accra, June 18, GNA - A national workplace policy on HIV/AIDS is under review, to guide in the management of the pandemic. The policy being reviewed by the National Tripartite Committee will address issues such as staff recruitment, retention, medical care, insurance and retirement benefits for employees who may contract the disease.

Professor Sakyi Awuku Amoa, Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission said this in a speech read for him at a durbar organised by the Ministry of Justice and Attorney- General's Department on Workplace HIV/AIDS Education held at the Ghana Law School in Accra.

The durbar, which was under the theme, "To do what is right, you need to know what is right", was attended by representatives from the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Prisons Service, Law Reform Commission, Ghana Law School, Judicial Service, Legal Aid Board, Serious Fraud Office, Council for Law Reporting and students.

Prof. Amoa advised that while the policy was awaiting approval, Ministries, Departments and Agencies and private sector enterprises should develop their own workplace policies and programmes to address the problem.

He noted that the impact of the pandemic on the worker is reflected in psychological manifestations such as anger, depression, fear, panic, blame, demoralisation loss of direction, denial and suicidal tendencies.

"It is projected that public and private sector enterprises may loose about 20-50 per cent of their workforce within the next five years, if effective preventive actions are not taken.

"These possible disastrous consequences indicate the need for HIV/AIDS interventions activities to protect employees and save the organisations from collapse".

Prof. Amoa said it was necessary to establish counselling services at the workplace and that employees needed to be properly counselled to go for voluntary testing to know their HIV status and enable them plan a better life.

Such facilities according to him will provide the organisation essential and timely information on the workplace for the appropriate measures on care and support to be taken, he added.

The current national prevalence rate is 3.6 per cent, an indication of a slow rise from 3.4 per cent in 2002.

Ms. Gloria Akuffo, Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, who chaired, said apart from contracting the disease through heterosexual activities, there were other areas of contracting disease, which needed to be addressed.

"Areas like pedicure, manicure and shaving, done in the markets using the same unsterilised instruments, use of tooth brush and deodorants are common things that we do and might contract the disease from".

She said her ministry would continue training staff to also train and educate their colleagues in the regions, hold workshops and join in the distribution of condoms to reverse the trend of the pandemic. There was an inter-ministerial quiz competition on HIV/AIDS, which was won by the Judicial Service followed by the Ghana Prisons Service and Ghana Police Service placing third.

The fourth position and the fifth positions were collected by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Justice respectively. They were presented with parcels and other consolation prizes. June 18 04

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