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18.08.2005 Health

Scouting can be used in the fight against HIV/AIDS - Commissioner

GNA

Hohoe (V/R), Aug. 18, GNA - Mr Isaac Newton Addy, Chief Commissioner of Ghana Scout Association (GSC), on Wednesday said the Red Ribbon Badge of Scouting was the only credible means of tackling sensitive issues surrounding sexuality including HIV/AIDS.

He, therefore, said Scouting was well positioned to mainstream in the fight against HIV/AIDS due to its influence in facilitating the development of young people towards acquiring competence, self-reliance, dependability and capacities to co-operate and lead.

Mr Addy was addressing a two-day follow-up workshop for 40 Peer Educators selected from Hohoe and Ketu Districts in the Volta Region. The workshop, which was organised by GSA and sponsored by USAID and International Youth Federation (IYF), a United States-based nongovernmental organisation (NGO), was under theme: "Capacity-building

Through the Patrol System - The Scouting Method to Fight HIV/AIDS."

He said the patrol system of scouting had already built a lot of experience and the exercise would be a platform to empower young people to be peer educators and generally exert positive peer influence.

Commissioner Addy said the HIV/AIDS scourge was the worst disaster to have befallen Africa in all times, killing some three million people, affecting another three million, some two million new infections in the next 12 months with another two million people expected to die by the end of 2005.

He said the only way forward was for the attributes of scouting to do magic to stem the menace.

Dr Michael Ahedor, Hohoe District Director of the Ghana Health Service, noted that in spite of the plethora of information on the dangers of the scourge being churned out continuously, there seemed to be a geometric progression in the spread of infections.

"Let us through the patrol system build adequate capacities in the children to avoid the shock associated with experimenting with love and sex, thereby contracting the disease.

Mr Kwame Gyimah Akwafo, Chairman of COCOAIDS (Country Committee for Combating HIV/AIDS), said sister institutions like the GSA, Ghana Girl Guides, Red Cross Society, Young Men Christian Association, Young Women Christian Association and the Head of State Awards had rationalised their strategies to fight the pandemic.

He said similar exercises were being done simultaneously in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, ostensibly to harness the potentials of the youth to combat the scourge.

Mr Akwafo said he was optimistic that as leprosy and yaws were eradicated, cure for the HIV/AIDS was imminent. Togbega Gabusu, Paramount Chief Gbi Traditional Area, who chaired the function, urged the participants to take their lessons seriously and to become role models.

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