The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has cautioned persons diagnosed of HIV/AIDS to stay away from uncertified medicines purported to cure the disease.
“Government is fully aware of the widespread claims of cure by some traditional medical practitioners and pastors and on this day, I urge all persons living with HIV to stick with anti-retrovirals because that is the only proven treatment currently available.
The President gave the advice in a speech read on his behalf at the commemoration of this year’s World AIDS Day in Accra yesterday on the theme ; “Communities Make the Difference- Help End AIDS”.
The durbar which brought together government officials, civil society and youth groups, traditional rulers, development partners, among others, drummed home the role of community support in controlling the HIV/ AIDs epidemic in the country.
President Akufo-Addo while expressing the government’s commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS, reminded Ghanaians of the need to take responsibility for their health.
“Each one of us has a responsibility for their own health. Test to know your status and if you prove negative, you should continue to remain negative but if tested positive, immediately adhere to treatment.
Now is the time to return to anti-retroviral treatment if you are in default. No one can do any of these for you. It is your personal responsibility,” he advised.
President Akufo-Addo expressed the government’s commitment in mainstreaming the management of HIV/AIDS into primary healthcare interventions to address the existing bottlenecks slowing down the country’s progress in achieving the 90-90-90 targets.
He indicated his resolve to ensure the operationalisation of the National HIV/ AIDS Fund by next year, to address the financing gaps in controlling the disease, urging the private sector and well-meaning individuals to join forces with the government to resource and sustain the fund.
“Pre-exposure prophylaxis (self medication for HIV/AIDS), he added, would be rolled out next year as an additional measure to reduce new infections among key populations,” the President added.
The President, who is the United Nations Co-Chair on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), urged the public to embrace the National Human Rights Strategy developed by the Ghana AIDS Commission in line with global action plans to strengthen advocacy, promote the protection of persons living with HIV and prevent stigma and discrimination against infected persons.
“I am optimistic that with the strengthening of our community systems and concerted efforts of all communities, we can all open a new chapter in our quest to achieve HIV epidemic control in line with the SDGs.”
Deputy Health Minister, Mr Alexander Abban, announced that government had pledged one million dollars to the Global Fund to support interventions in the control of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
He indicated that plans were afoot to expand testing and anti-retroviral centres across the country, while the ministry together with its implementing agencies leverage on technology to bring HIV/AIDS under control.
Acting Director of the GAC, Mr Atuahene Kyeremeh, admitted that Ghana was unlikely to meet the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020 but could improve on progress made so far to change the status quo in the shortest possible time.
He appealed to non-governmental organisations, corporate entities and religious bodies particularly the churches to encourage the testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS as “data indicates that 80 per cent of persons living with HIV are church goers.”
By ABIGAIL ANNOH