Koforidua, May 12, GNA - The seventeen districts in the Eastern Region were each presented with Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and Prevention of Mother-To-Child-Transmission (PMTCT) equipment and furniture on Thursday for the establishment of VCT centres. With the presentation, VCT centres in the country had increased from 90 to 107.
The equipment formed part of a 25,000-dollar package programme provided by the Royal Netherlands Embassy through the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the scaling up of care and support programmes in the Eastern Region.
Each district received a television set, a computer, a pen drive, DVD player, set of furniture and nevirapine drugs to be given to mothers, who tested HIV positive.
Speaking at the function, the Eastern Regional Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Focal Person on HIV/AIDS, Ms Golda Asante, said last year, the region recorded 2,600 new HIV positive cases. She noted that some HIV/AIDS victims, who could have lived longer, died early, because they could not know their HIV status early enough for them to get any treatment and support. Ms Asante said the clarion call for support for People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHAS) was unavoidable, if the human resources of the country was to be safe guarded.
The Eastern Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Ebenezer Appiah- Denkyira, said the Ghana Health Service (GHS) had focused its attention on three main areas.
He mentioned the areas as Child Survival, Safe Motherhood and Disease Control for all ages and observed that one of the diseases that had major effect on all the three areas was HIV/AIDS.
Dr Appiah-Denkyira said records available indicated that, for the first quarter of the year, the region recorded 20 new AIDS cases for people below the age of 20 and all the three sentinel sites in the region were recording figures above the dangerous level of 5 per cent. He said the records also have it that 6.5 per cent of pregnant women in the region were HIV positive, saying this explained calls for improvement in the care and support programmes for PLWHAS. Dr Appiah-Denkyira expressed the hope that the furniture and equipment being provided the districts would help extend the care and support programmes for PLWAS in the region.
The Health and Gender Development Advisor to the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Ghana, Dr Jan van der Horst, said the present rate of growth of HIV/AIDS in Ghana could be deceptive for people to think that the country was free from the scare when compared with figures of some countries in Eastern and Southern African countries. He said, however, when distribution pattern of the disease in the country was carefully studied, one would realise the danger that lied ahead.
Dr Horst said few infected people know their HIV status and VCT served as an entry point to prevention and provision of care and support for people living with the disease, while PMTCT presents an opportunity to help the unborn baby from contracting the disease in case the mother did not know her status before conception.
The WHO representative, Dr Morkor Newman, said Ghana got the first experience of the HIV/AIDS for a little over 20 years ago and yet its effect were "still immeasurable", stressing that reversing the spread of the disease depends largely on adopting the appropriate and effective comprehensive strategies through multi-sectoral collaboration and co-ordination with all stakeholders. May 12, 05