Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the fight against HIV/AIDS have expressed concern over the inactivation of the National HIV/ AIDS fund six years after it was passed into law.
According to them, the inactivation of the fund was partly to blame for stalled progress and disruption in gains made towards the HIV/AIDS fight in Ghana, over the years.
Thus, in the face of dwindling donor funding to the area, the CSOs have appealed to the government to as a matter of urgency, activate the fund in its 2023 budget.
They made the call in Accra at the launch of the 2022 World HIV/ AIDS day on the theme; “Equalise; a call to action, a forceful appeal to government, civil society, private sector and individuals to work together to remove all inequalities that perpetuates the spread of the HIV epidemic.”
President of the Ghana HIV and AIDS Network (GHANET), Ernest Amoabeng Ortsin, in a remark, said,the National HIV and AIDS fund was needed to preserve the lives of over 250,000 Ghanaians currently surviving on life-saving anti-retroviral (ART) drugs.
He stated that about eight percent (20,000) of this number were children and needed to be supported to remain on medications and realise their potential in life.
“According to the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) Act, 938 as amended in 2016, the only person who can activate the fund is the Minister of Finance.
I, therefore, wish to appeal to the Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, to unfailingly activate the fund in the 2023 budget which will be read exactly two weeks from today,” he stated.
Mr Ortsin maintained that it was expected that the Global Fund which presently was a major donor for Ghana’s HIV/ AIDS interventions to withdraw its activities in view of new global interests, as such, “as a country, we need to take our destiny into our own hands.”
“This is why GHANET and all CSOs in health are calling on the President and the Minister of Finance to activate the fund as immediately as possible.”
The Director-General of the GAC, Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene disclosed that in the last five years, the country has averagely recorded 21,000 new HIV infections.
From January to June this year, Ghana had already crossed the average mark, recording 23,495 new HIV infections which is, two percent of 948,094 people who undertook HIV testing during the period.
The DG said high-risk behaviours, complacency amidst disregard for preventive tools were contributing to the spread of the disease, urging members of the public to take responsibility for protecting themselves from HIV infection.
Currently, Ghana is doing 71-99-79 of the UNAIDS 95-95-95 target which aims to diagnose 95 percent of the HIV population, have 95 percent on anti-retrovirals and 95 percent, achieving viral suppression of the disease.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH