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07.09.2005 General News

Moves by banks to link loans to HIV status rejected

GNA

Accra, Sept. 7, GNA - Professor Awuku Sakyi Amoa, Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, on Wednesday described as "unfortunate" reported moves by some banks in the country to demand HIV/AIDS medical certificates from prospective loan seekers before granting them loans. He said such a demand is contrary to Ghana's position on the epidemic.

Prof Amoa, who was speaking to the GNA in a telephone interview, said Ghana's policy prescribes Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) as a key strategy in the management of HIV/AIDS throughout the country. Mr J. E. Nkrumah, Chairman of the Central Region Chapter of the Association of Rural and Community Banks, at a meeting at Awutu Bawjiase at the weekend, is reported to have announced that prospective loan seekers from the bank might in future be compelled to provide HIV/AIDS medical certificate before getting loans.

According to him, some banks had already introduced the scheme, which was to ensure that beneficiaries were free from the virus and could re-pay their loans without any problem regarding their health. Prof Amoa said under the national policy, it was wrong for anyone to make such demands including those related to compulsory testing before employment, enrolment into schools or contracting marriages. He said the Commission was not aware that some banks were already demanding medical certificates, otherwise the Commission would have consulted with these banks.

The Director-General said HIV/AIDS could now be compared to diseases such as diabetes and hypertension but the banks were not demanding medical certificates for these conditions.

"HIV/AIDS is now a routine disease just like hypertension and diabetes...a person who goes in for a bank loan could even die overnight and as such it is wrong for any bank to demand compulsory HIV/AIDS testing", he held.

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