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13.12.2005 Regional News

Anti-retroviral drugs should be made affordable - Mrs Antwi

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Sunyani (B/A) Dec. 13, GNA - Mrs. Anna Darling Owusu Antwi, Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare has appealed to the Government to make anti-retroviral drugs available, affordable and if possible free for AIDS patients. She said information from the Welfare Unit of the Brong-Ahafo Regional Hospital indicated that anti-retroviral drugs available were administered to infected pregnant women for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the pandemic. Mrs. Antwi made the appeal when addressing the opening session of a two-day HIV/AIDS workshop in Sunyani.

The Ghana AIDS Commission sponsored the workshop organised by the Ministry of Manpower Development, Youth and Employment for 60 staff of decentralized departments within Brong-Ahafo and Ashanti regions. Mrs. Antwi observed that in Kumasi, Accra and other parts of the country, anti-retroviral drugs were available and being sold to infected patients at 50,000 cedis a month, adding "this is considered to be relatively expensive since most of the infected patients were poor and vulnerable." She said the ability to obtain the drug would not be enough for an AIDS patient who was expected to eat nutritious food.

Mrs. Antwi expressed concern about 90 per cent of Ghanaians who had information about the disease but the required behavioural change had not been realised. She said this was because the pandemic had been seen as more of a clinical problem than as a social problem. Mrs Antwi pointed out that since the problem was more of a clinical problem, appealed to the stakeholders to be more inquisitive, assertive, and pro-active to help minimize its spread. She called on the Government to equip social workers with the requisite training and other resources to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and advised the participants to become ambassadors of the HIV/AIDS menace.

Mr. Elvis S. Addae, Executive Director of Partnership for Community Transformation, an Accra-based NGO and a resource person said the workshop was part of a nation-wide programme.