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31.03.2006 Health

Western region to begin anti-retroviral therapy next month


Takoradi, March 31, GNA - Western Region is to start HIV/AIDS anti-retroviral therapy next month, Dr Roland Sowah, Western Regional HIV/AIDS Coordinator, announced on Friday in Takoradi. He was speaking at the inauguration of Takoradi Port branch of the Ghana Port and Harbour Authority (GPHA) HIV/AIDS Peer Educators Association.

Dr Sowah said affected patients in the region, would be provided with anti-retroviral drugs at a minimal cost when the therapy began. He said Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Centres would be established at hospitals in the region including the GPHA Hospital in Takoradi to enable people ascertain their HIV/AIDS status. Dr Sowah said VCT staff would undertake training before taking up their assignments.

He said VCT was the starting point of the campaign against HIV/AIDS and would stop the transmission of the disease especially mother to child transmission. Dr Sowah said equipment to measure the immunity level of HIV/AIDS patients at the centres had been acquired.

Dr Sowah said doctors would decide whether to put a patient on anti-retroviral drugs based on the level of immunity. He said the infection rate of the disease had declined in the region from 3.3 per cent in 2004 to 3.1 per cent in 2005. Dr Vitus Anaab-Bisi, Acting Head of Medical Services at GPHA Hospital, Takoradi, called on the management to design a workplace HIV/AIDS policy.

He urged local and senior staff unions of the authority to be proactive to support management to fully implement the initiative. Dr Anaab-Bisi said a workplace HIV/AIDS policy would provide the framework for enterprise action to reduce the spread of the disease and manage its impact.

He called on the management to establish a special fund in the authority's annual budget for programmes and activities related to prevention and management of HIV/AIDS. Mr Joe Mensah, Personnel and Administrative Manager of GPHA, inaugurated the association with Mr Ernest Sankah as President.