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10.11.2004 General News

Help find cheap and innovative ways of combating AIDS- JAK

By GNA

Cape Coast, Nov. 10, GNA- The President, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, on Wednesday, called on the Commonwealth and Ghana Medical Associations, to come up with innovative ways of helping developing countries, to cheaply cope with the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

He noted that the numerous measures being evolved by the Ghana government in particular, such as provision of quality health care, education and the empowerment of women, in order to meet some of the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), would come to nothing, if the nation fails to confront the onslaught of the disease.

The President, made the call in an address read for him at the formal opening of the 'Joint 20th Triennial Consultative Conference of the Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA) and 46th Annual General Conference of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), at Cape Coast.

The theme for the one-week event, is " Achieving Millennium Development Goals: Maternal mortality, child survival, HIV/AIDS and gender", and is being attended by about 600 members of the two associations from Commonwealth countries, such as Ghana, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, India, Malta, Nigeria, Uganda and Sri Lanka.

He told the Conference, that the Ghana government was working closely with the National AIDS Commission to tackle the disease, in addition to continual education about it.

The President, was happy that the theme for the conference, resonates with the MDGs, which was launched in Johannesburg, and said the spirit of its declarations "is the fundamental spirit" underlying the government's programmes, since its assumption of office. According to him, the government has identified poverty reduction, gender empowerment and the promotion of good health as some of the benchmarks to judge its performance.

He said the government, was aware that health-care promotion means provision of affordable, equitable and accessible quality health care delivery system, and was happy that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been embraced throughout the country, despite immense difficulties.

President Kufuor, however pointed out that the success of the government's health policies, depends on doctors and other health personnel, whom he said, were currently working under severe constraint.

President Kufuor observed that, a major problem facing the nation was the brain drain of health professionals, due to several factors like low salaries and poor remuneration, and lack of avenues for career development and progression.

He gave the assurance that government would endeavour to find solutions to many of these problems, and has already enacted laws establishing the Ghana College of physicians and surgeons and the NHIS. President Kufuor noted that the implementation of these laws, would, in some measure, address the issues of poor career development and progression and job satisfaction, and expressed concern that the issue of brain drain must be seen as a crucial one, which is undermining the best efforts of government of developing countries.

For his part, the President of the GMA, Professor Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, commended the government for its political will, courage and imagination in passing the NHIS bill into an Act and starting the process of its implementation.

He described the NHIS law as "an important beginning" and stressed that whatever arguments may be advanced against aspects of the law, any properly managed pre-paid scheme, was better than the cash and carry system, adding, " let no patriotic and well-meaning Ghanaian try to derail this process".

The GMA President, also bemoaned the inadequate number of doctors in the country, which is currently, 1,600 and said the nation needs a minimum of between 5,000 and 6,000 doctors "to barely provide reasonable total coverage", and said there is an urgent need to train and retain more doctors.

The immediate past President of the CMA, Dr Patrick Krishnan, was hopeful that the conference will achieve its aim and objective of assisting and strengthening the capacities of the national medical associations of member countries of the CMA, to improve the health and well-being of their communities.

The CMA was established in 1962 and its current membership comprises of about 35 National Medical Associations of Commonwealth countries.

The Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, who stood in for President Kufuor, later opened an exhibition of drugs, other medical items and literature produced by some local pharmaceutical companies such as Ayrton and Kinapharma, as part of the conference.

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