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22.02.2005 General News

Fight against HIV/AIDS must continue - Mahama

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Accra, Feb. 22 GNA - Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister for Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC), on Tuesday underscored the need for an effective and co-coordinated response from all sectors of the society to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

She said the effect of the disease on the nation was worrying, as children who were the future leaders, were becoming particularly vulnerable.

Hajia Alima Mahama, whose speech was read for her at an HIV/AIDS sensitisation programme dubbed: "Lessons for Life," initiated by Global Movement for Children (GMC) as part of a Worldwide campaign against the epidemic.

The programme with support from Coalition of NGO Partners was to educate the youth to develop better understanding of HIV/AIDS, sexuality and to form healthy relationships.

The Minister said: "The epidemic has far-reaching effects, both economically and socially as it puts pressure on families to reconfigure themselves in multiple ways."

She said AIDS related deaths often brought many orphans into the family who became susceptible to physical, intellectual, educational and psychosocial abuse as well as neglect. Hajia Mahama also called for care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS and added that advocacy strategies ought to be targeted at the right group of people.

She commended the NGO Coalition for giving the children a voice as well as highlighting the impact of the disease on the lives of Ghanaian children.

Mr Peter Kwarteng Hammond, a representative of the Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC) said the Commission had embarked on school HIV/AIDS education with the objective of creating awareness of the threat among children to enable them to refrain from early sex. He called for children to have easy access to information on HIV/AIDS to enable them to gain detailed knowledge about the disease so that they could say no to sex.

He also appealed to the Metropolitan and District Assemblies to identify and assist caretakers of AIDS orphans through the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Mr Silas Quaye, a representative of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), in a presentation said Ghana currently had an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 3.6 percent with over 220,000 orphans and vulnerable children.

He said 80 percent of the infections in the country were through sex while 15 percent were through mother to child transmission. He called for behavioural change among the youth to avoid being infected by the disease.

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