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05.04.2005 General News

Up to 300,000 made orphans by AIDS

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Accra, April 5, GNA - The Ghana AIDS Commission estimates that between 170,000 and 300,000 identified children in the country have been made orphans by AIDS, Mrs Yaa Agyeman Amekudzi, Country Director of Hope for Africa Initiative (HACI), a nongovernmental organization (NGO), said in Accra on Tuesday.

There were many more children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS and who were regrettably classified as orphans-in-waiting and would be orphans, she said when HACI presented equipment worth 262 million cedis to 11 NGOs across the country fighting against HIV/AIDS.

The items included computers; printers; megaphones, office cabinet, television sets, video decks; bicycles and washing bowls.

Mrs Amekudzi said much promise for bringing about positive change in the lives of children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS was training and capacity building for teachers of orphans, the establishment of adolescent friendly centres and promotion of greater involvement of persons living with AIDS.

She called for the strengthening of Ghanaian families with psycho-social, financial and material support to reduce the spread of the disease among children.

"It is unfortunate that the preferred choice of People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) is the extended family as opposed to orphanages or other institutional arrangements."

Mrs Amekudzi said with a penchant of Ghanaians for religion, reaching out to people especially on issues of stigmatisation, care and support for PLWHA and orphans and vulnerable children through religious bodies and faith based organizations continued to prove to be a practice that should be built upon.

She called on chieftaincy institutions that wielded enormous power in the country to include settling sexual and reproduction issues, thereby positioning themselves to play a critical role in HIV/AIDS interventions.

"For many women in Ghana the lack of skills and training put them at risk of HIV/AIDS."

She said it was unfortunate that PLWHA with the onset of the disease were forced to quit their jobs as a choice and move back to their hometowns to be among relatives and friends.

Mrs Amekudzi called for alternative livelihood and interventions for PLWHA who by virtue of their reduced energy levels found themselves unable to continue doing the same work.

"Finding alternative livelihoods is a necessity in order to reduce the dependency of PLWHA on others."

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