05.07.2004 Health

GMA annual health week launched

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Tarkwa (W/R), July 5, GNA - Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Health has called on Ghanaians to see HIV/AIDS as their own problem to ensure that safe sex and issues relating to its prevention are discussed at homes and at every meeting.

He said the problem is not lack of knowledge about the disease, but it is about changing lifestyles and encourage safe sex habits. Dr. Afriyie said, "as a country, if we do not develop our own response to this pandemic in a determination to change our lifestyles, all of us would be touched in one way or the other by the disease." He said this in an address read on his behalf at the launch of 2004 annual health week of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) at Tarkwa on Saturday.

It was under the theme: "Responsible behavioural change - Key to arresting the HIV/AIDS menace in Ghana."

Advising the youth, Dr. Afriyie said the country has no future if HIV/AIDS continues to destroy most of them adding, "there will be no young people to take over from the ageing people."

The Minister therefore, told the youth to be disciplined and avoid behaviour that would put them at risk of contracting the HIV/AIDS. He appealed to everybody to support the unfortunate victims of HIV/AIDS by showing compassion, love and provide the necessary comfort to manage the disease.

Dr. Afriyie commended members of the GMA for continuing the crusade adding, "as a country we need all of you as doctors to be available and remain committed to your duty so as to provide the needed leadership, advocacy, care and support to combat this and other diseases." Professor Francis Adu Ababio, Vice President, GMA, said over 80 percent of Ghanaians are aware of HIV/AIDS, but unfortunately the problem of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS still persist.

He said what is more worrying and militating against the crusade against the fight is the inability of Ghanaians to translate their perceived awareness of HIV/AIDS into responsible behavioural change. Prof. Ababio however, said behavioural change could be achieved overnight, hence the need to redirect the strategy in the fight against the spread of the disease.

Osagyefo Kwamina Enimil VI, Paramount Chief of Wassa Fiase Traditional Area, who presided suggested that the condom use should be played down and preach abstinence to the youth. 04 July 04

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