Accra, Oct. 13, GNA - First Lady Theresa Kufuor on Thursday called for a massive change in the way society looks at issues to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
This, she said, was because the epidemic was affecting households and unfortunately the extended family support system was collapsing leaving victims and orphans vulnerable.
The First Lady made these remarks when she launched Zero Incidence of the Youth - No New Infection awareness campaign in Accra. Mrs. Kufuor said at a steering meeting of
the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) in Lusaka, Zambia, in May 2005, that they agreed to launch a continental HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in their respective countries to support the initiative of various stakeholders in the fight against the disease, particularly the youth.
The negative impact of the disease in the family system, the painful stigma and discrimination, which had resulted in isolation, was disheartening, she said.
"To say that families were splitting, and society shunning its responsibility will be an understatement in this present crisis even though there exist various policies and legislation addressing the protection of vulnerable children and persons living with AIDS." Mrs. Kufuor noted that despite the progressive effort made by the Ghana AIDS Commission (CAC) to combat the disease, there was no doubt that the population structure had been radically altered by HIV/AIDS. "It is with this realisation that first ladies of OAFLA are launching the campaign to draw attention to the weak link in caring for the youth particularly those affected by the disease," she said. Professor Sakyi Awuku Amoah, Director General, Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), who chaired the function, said the impact of HIV/AIDS on the education system and its consequences could not be overemphasised.
He said as teachers got infected, the quality of teaching and learning would also be affected and that the time had come to provide adequate information to enable people, especially the youth to make informed decisions.
Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa, Director General, Ghana Health Service, noted that one out of seven pregnant women is a teenager, a phenomenon he described as worrying.
He advised the youth, especially the Window of Hope group, not to hurry in life saying, "The future of this country is in your hands". UNICEF representative Ms Dorothy Rozga called for the reduction of the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and said it was time to increase resource flows, scale up action on advocacy and communication work in the areas of the four main areas known as the four Ps.
They are drug to Prevent mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) and voluntary testing and counselling services, Paediatric treatment to prevent opportunistic infections, Protection, care and support for affected children and Prevention to reduce adolescent risks and vulnerability to the disease and prevent new infections as well. 13 Oct.05