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31.08.2004 General News

National Children's Day marked

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Accra, Aug. 31, GNA - This year's National Children's Day was on Tuesday marked with a call on society to be more responsible in its actions in respect to good parenting and ensuring behavioural change among children towards HIV/AIDS.

Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister for Women and Children's Affairs, said the day was dedicated to reflect and consider issues affecting children to ensure that the rights of children were protected.

The celebrations on the theme: "HIV/AIDS: Show Concern to Children," was a wake-up call to the whole nation to consider AIDS as a challenge which confronted the nation and the need to do everything possible to overcome the disease, she said.

The pandemic is causing a significant deterioration to the total workforce of the nation and affecting the availability of social services to all children.

Mrs Asmah said the current rate of infection, estimated to be over 450,000 persons, was very alarming because it was bound to leave behind a large number of orphans to be catered for.

A document published by UNICEF in March 2000 indicated that the disease was reducing life expectancy in many countries in the developing world, while raising morbidity and mortality among young people and professionals.

"It has been estimated that by 2004, Ghana would have as many as 132,000 AIDS orphans and 20 to 30 per cent of babies born to HIV/AIDS patients are infected and would die within two years," Mrs Asmah noted. HIV/AIDS has the potential to destabilise the very fabric of the society, because it affects mainly people in their reproductive age.

"If care is not taken the nation would suffer serious socio-economic problems that will deprive the nation from realising the full benefits of its investment in education and other social infrastructure," she said.

She called for an increase in resources available for HIV/AIDS prevention activities as well as an improvement on infrastructure. This, she said, would ensure quality delivery of services to promote safer and responsible sexual behaviour, reduce poverty, illiteracy and other socio-economic and political factors that increased vulnerability of the infection.

Mrs Asmah appealed to the public to change their attitude towards people living with HIV/AIDS as well as AIDS orphans and make it a moral duty to encourage and support the affected.

Mrs Marilyn Anna Amponsah, Acting Executive Secretary of the National Commission on Children (NCCE), said August was normally devoted to promote and deliberate on issues affecting children.

She said it was imperative that communities got involved in ensuring discipline among the youth to halt any further spread of the disease and eradicate stigmatisation and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and orphans.

Mr Mac Tontoh, a renowned musician, urged the youth to get involved in youth educational activities and utilise youth centres whenever they had a problem.

"This will take your minds off activities that would destroy your future and kill you," he said