Government has announced its readiness to support local pharmaceutical companies to manufacture anti-retroviral drugs for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who announced this yesterday, said the development of the pharmaceutical industry to enable businesses manufacture the drugs was one of the key commitments of his government.
“As part of our programme of industrial growth, we will make a determined effort in the next four years to reverse the structure of the Ghanaian economy and we have chosen the pharmaceutical industry as one of the key growth point,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo was interacting with Michael Sidibe, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) at his office at the Flagstaff House in Accra yesterday.
He bemoaned the severity of the deadly disease in the ECOWAS region and called for an ambitious intervention to improve the statistics.
“Three out of four people living with the disease in the ECOWAS region do not have access to treatment. This is totally unacceptable. We need to do whatever is required to be done to improve those statistics. These statistics cannot be allowed to fester,” he said.
He pledged the government’s commitment to support the work of the UNAIDS with passion and with the resources available.
He said since Ghana was the chair of the Programme Implementation Board, it would play a frontline role in the fight against the disease to lead an important legacy.
The President justified his selection of Kwaku Agyeman Manu, a finance expert, to head the health ministry and indicated that the numerous challenges in the sector was not necessarily technical but financial.
“It is about the money and therefore if we can find somebody who has good attitude to money, and will be careful with the way in which it is managed and developed, that can be an important step. We have a national health insurance scheme and we are determined to make it firm and sustainable and that is the principal reason why we brought him,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo expressed the government’s commitment to support and increase the capacity of the Ghana AIDS Commission to make it play a lead role in the fight against the deadly disease.
Mr. Sidibe, on his part, said a new model would be adopted to address the disease and its related diseases comprehensively.
One of the major problems worth addressing, he said, was the spread of the disease among teenagers and called on President Akufo-Addo to support the programme to address the challenge.
He commended the government’s commitment to produce the anti-retroviral drugs and stressed the need for countries in the ECOWAS region to come together to consider the possibility of producing the drugs locally.
By Yaw Kyei