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06.01.2006 Health

US builds Health Support Centre for HIV/AIDS counselling

By GNA

Accra, Jan. 6, GNA - A Health Support Centre (HSC) costing 120,000 dollars was on Friday inaugurated in Accra to provide confidential voluntary counselling and testing for HIV/AIDS, training for HIV/AIDS counsellors, peer educators and counsellors for students and the general public.

The Centre, sited on the premises of Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and provided by the United States Cooperation Programme Funds, would also provide appropriate sexual and reproductive health practices to the university community, provide links and facilitate support services to clients, serve as a referral centre for general practitioners.

Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has offered trained counsellors for the centre and the National AIDS Control Program NACP has also offered NMIMR a sequencer to support the anti-retroviral treatment programme. Ms Pamela Bridgewater, US Ambassador in Ghana who performed the inauguration said the HSC was a result of the United Sates Department of Defence's Humanitarian Assistance for projects. She said the cooperative program had resulted in another clinic being built in Kumasi and numerous wells constructed all over the country.

Ms. Bridgewater said through the same cooperation, more funds would be provided for equipment and furnishing of the Centre to enable it to provide quality counselling and support services for clients. Professor David Ofori-Adjei, Director of the NMIMR, said a team made up of representatives from the Ghana AIDS Commission, National AIDS Control Programme, University of Ghana Counselling and Placement Centre, School of Nursing, Instotute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana Hospital, Strengthening HIV/AIDS Response Partnerships Projects and the Ghana Sustainable Change Projects had been tasked to work out the implementation plan for the services to be provided by the Centre.

"We anticipate strong collaboration and support from these bodies but the Ghana AIDS Commission and the national AIDS Control Program in particular."

Prof. Ofori-Adjei said telephone links would also be connected for clients to call in for assistance, adding "the Institute will pursue its mandate of conducting research on health problems of public health importance".

Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, commended the US government for the assistance and said the facility and its services would fill the gap in voluntary counselling and testing in tertiary institutions where counselling had been generally limited to academic matters.

She urged the university community to put the facility to good use and acknowledge that there was nothing unfashionable or sissy about seeking help for matters that affected one's health. Dr Gladys Ashitey, Deputy Minister of Health called for cooperation and assistance in other health related areas.

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