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03.11.2004 Regional News

Government urged to move away from donor support in the fight against

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Accra, Nov. 3, GNA - Discussants at a round table discussion on access to anti-retroviral drugs on Wednesday urged government to find alternate ways of generating funds internally for HIV/AIDS control instead of relying on donor support.

"We as Ghanaians should start doing something for ourselves, individual and organizations should set aside a small percentage or an insignificant amount of their income to help fight the problems which confronts us as a nation," they argued.

One of the speakers, Rita Akoto Coker of the Action AID, in her contribution said setting aside some funds would be helpful to the nation when donor fatigue sets in.

"Funding should come from our own pockets, boxes could be placed at vantage points so that people can drop in whatever they have, most funding from abroad is made possible for our use because people have cultivated the habit of donating a dollar or a pound to charity, why can't we do same for our country?"

The programme, organised by the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) was to create an opportunity for stakeholders in the health care development promotion, to deepen their knowledge and understanding of critical issues on access to anti-retroviral treatment in Ghana.

Earlier, in a presentation on Care and Support for Persons Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) in Ghana, Dr. Nii Akwei Addo, Programme Manger, Ghana AIDS/STI Control Programme said the AIDS Commission Chaired by the president also shared the concerns of the discussants and had decided to source funding internally to fight AIDS.

On accessibility of the anti-retroviral drugs, he noted that government was paying 90 percent of the cost of the drug while Persons Living With HIV/AIDS bore 10 percent.

"Government was currently paying 450,000 cedis while the PLWHAs paid 50,000 and this would continue as long as they live," he said. This, he said, was though and enormous; nevertheless government was committed to the cause.

He explained that being a PLWHA did not necessarily mean that one had to be on the drug and said, " there is a level of viral load that determined whether one should start treatment or not". He said a CD4 counting equipment to test the viral load of PLWHAs would soon be installed at Korle-Bu and subsequent ones to be installed in the regional hospitals.

This he said, would enable the PLWHAs to know the level of their viral load and whether they would be on the drug or not.

He noted that prevention was the cornerstone in the fight against the infection but behavioural change among the citizenry was paramount.

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