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Ghana AIDS Commission holds 2010 Partnership Forum

posted Nov 17, 2010, 6:41 PM by Ghana Medical Volunteers
Accra, Nov. 17, GNA - Speakers at the 2010 HIV and AIDS Partnership Forum on Wednesday agreed that though the National Prevalence Rate of HIV and AIDS was stabilising, community, district and regional variations were significant.

They also noted that determinants including stigmatisation, discrimination and marginalisation of most at risk population continued to be a challenge.

Other determinants identified are low condom use, multiple concurrent partners and gender which has been attributed to social cultural stereotypes and beliefs, polygamous culture in Ghana, legal barriers and the low empowerment rate among women.

The forum is a platform to review progress of implementation of the 2010 programme of work, to present, discuss and validate the priorities for the National Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS 2015 and ultimately indicate the continued commitment to the national response through the signing of an Aide Memoire.

The strategic plan is designed to provide an overall planning guide for a much expanded effort to deal with the epidemic including improvements to the supporting environment.

It was also aimed at preventing new infections, targeting behavioural change, programmes for the population as well as specific vulnerable groups, treatment, care and support, and combating stigma and discrimination. Dr Angela El-Adas, Director General of Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) noted that the strategy had provided the framework and road map for the nation and served as a comprehensive multi-sectoral plan through which all stakeholders collaborated to implement, monitor and evaluate HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes at national, regional district and community levels.

She said the 2010 implementation period identified the need to demonstrate changes in the epidemic brought about by efforts with the five-year period and to see whether or not the strategic, structures set up, the resources and the coordinating mechanism remained relevant and had yielded the desired results.

"We have since made great strides in setting priorities, formulating targets and designing strategies based on empirical baseline bio-behavioural and epidemiological data", she said.

Dr El-Adas noted that GAC and collaborators would go beyond the development of a strategic framework to a user friendly, evidence based, result oriented and gender responsive plan. Dr Nii Akwei Addo, Programme Manger National AIDS Control Programme said the current prevalence rate ranged between two per cent in Northern Region to 4.2 per cent in the Eastern Region and as low as 0.7 per cent in North Tongu District to 5.8 per cent in Agormanya and Koforidua. He said success had been chalked in areas such as access to health care for patients with advanced HIV infections, increase in school attendance among orphans and decrease in prevalence among female sex workers and males having sex with males.

However, Dr Addo noted that key challenges still remained in areas such as human resource weaknesses especially within the health system which affected logistics and commodities, Anti Retrovirals and condom availability.

Other challenges are weak coordination at the decentralised level, weak implementation capacity of some civil society organisations and community based organisations including monitoring and evaluation, inadequate sharing of information and 'Meeting fatigue' of partners leading to poor attendance of national level meetings.

Mr Leo Zekeng, UNAIDS Country Coordinator who read a speech on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Ruby Sandhu-Rojon said though the national prevalence rate was stabilising areas such as coordination of the implementation at all levels, procurement and supply management, limited access to HIV services for those who needed it still remained a challenge. He called for renewed political and funding commitment to achieve universal access, improvement of integration and linkages between HIV and AIDS and related services such as TB, maternal and child health, sexual and reproduction health, strengthening coordination and management of decentralised AIDS response and bold measures to address legal and structural barriers that increase HIV vulnerability among women. Ms Julie Furuta-Toy, Deputy Chief of Missions and a representative of the Danish Embassy pledged their commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS and called the scaling up of efforts and the political commitment to achieve universal access. 17 Nov. 10