Ghana has received more than $1.2 billion from the Global Fund to assist in the fight against Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV and AIDS.
With the assistance over the past two decades, a total of 226,000 Ghanaians living with the humane immono virus(HIV) were currently put on free anti-retroviral (ARVs) treatment across the country.
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu disclosed these in Accra on Friday in a speech read on his behalf at a ceremony, in which Ghana received a Symbolic Torch from Nigeria to mark the 20th anniversary of the Global Fund.
The Global Fund, founded in 2002, is an independent, multilateral financing entity designed to raise significant resources and accelerate efforts to end AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria epidemics.
Mr Agyeman-Manu who is also the chair of the Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund, said over the years, the fund had assisted Ghana to build a resilient health system through technical assistance such as capacity building, procurement of equipment, TB, HIV and malaria prevention and treatment thus averting millions of deaths.
According to the Minister of Health, with the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the government had been able to apply some of the Global Fund’s allocation to the treatment and care of patients and oxygen supply to the various COVID-19 health facilities.
Mr Agyeman-Manu expressed gratitude to Global Fund for the support saying Ghana was committed to its counterpart funding to the fund to enable its continuous assistance to Ghana.
The minister used the occasion to pay glowing tribute to Bill and Belinda Gates and partners for establishing the funds which has saved to date 44 million lives across the globe.
The late United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan was praised as an illustrious son of Ghana andone of the brain-child of the Global Fund.
The Programme Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Dr Keziah Malm, touting the success story of the Fund in the fight against malaria said with just four percent of the population using treated mosquito bed-nets in 2002, today nearly 60 percent of Ghanaians had benefited from free distribution of the bed-nets.
According to her, malaria deaths had reduced from 14,000 in the early 2,000s to 2,700 deaths as of 2012,
“Last year, just 300 malaria deaths were recorded with drastic reduction in Out -Patient Department (OPD) attendance for malaria,” she said.
On his part, Dr Stephen Ayisi Addo, Programme Manager of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), disclosed that with the Global Fund support, 4,000 sites had been established for HIV testing with more than 500 additional sites across the country offering free ARVs to HIV infected persons.
About 800 pregnant women had been reached for testing while condoms had been distributed to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Other speakers at the brief ceremony which was carried virtual was the UNAIDS Country Director, Ms Angela Trenton-Mbonde and Mrs Cecelia Senoo, Board member of the Global Fund and Executive Director of Hope For Future Generation (HFFG), an NGO.
The symbolic Torch will be carried around Ghana for the next weeks as part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Global Fund.
BY NORMAN COOPER