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07.10.2004 Book Review

HIV/AIDS handbook reviewed

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Accra, Oct.7, GNA - A stakeholders' workshop opened on Thursday to review a handbook on HIV/AIDS and socio-economic development in the districts.

The handbook that aims at guiding district assemblies to develop HIV/AIDS strategic plans through informed and participatory process was presented by the District Response Initiative (DRI) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

Captain Nkrabea Effah Darteh (rtd), Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, urged the participants to put their ideas together to make the final copy, a handbook for all frontiers on HIV/AIDS.

"The book which will be launched nationally should have key inputs for developing a district HIV/AIDS strategic plan," the Minister said. He called on all community leaders to join the fight against the pandemic and reminded District Chief Executives (DCEs) that one per cent of the Districts assemblies' Common Fund should be used in battling HIV/AIDS.

He said more efforts were needed in the fight against HIV/AIDS and noted there was the need to involve districts and locals assemblies in the fight against the pandemic hence the need for the DRI.

The District Response Initiative was introduced to mobilize local capacity for a multi-sectoral response to HIV/AIDS at the district level. The DRI has since year 2001 operated in line with the Ghana HIV/AIDS strategic framework, coordinated by the Ghana AIDS Commission. The DRI provides a forum for dialogue on HIV/AIDS for local government, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and communities and creates a rallying point for HIV/AIDS activities at the district level

Professor Sakyi Awuku-Amoa, Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, said it was important to involve stakeholders from all the districts, saying; "there is still limited information and activities on HIV/AIDS, at the district and local levels".

He urged the Sector Ministry to move faster and spread the message on HIV/AIDS at the local level.

"There is the need to speed up strategic planning to stimulate local response. Strategic planning is necessary to define responsibility, encourage the appropriate response and promote ownership and sustainability," he said.

Dr Melville George, World Health Organization Country Representative, said the HIV/AIDS pandemic needed a multi-sectoral approach.

He said the new approach would provide opportunity for consensus building on priorities and the best way to address them.