Over 262,000 persons living with HIV (PLHIV) and on antiretrovirals (ARVs) risk relapse or possible deaths as the Global Fund threatens to cut free supply of medications.
The Global Fund (GF) is the world’s largest financier of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria programming, especially in lower to middle income countries.
Ghana was the first recipient of GF grant since its establishment 20 years ago and has as of September this year, received about US$1,285 billion to support HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria activities.
Addressing a joint news conference in Accra on Friday, the President of the Ghana HIV and AIDs Network (GHANET), Ernest Ortsin, expressed concern over the development and its possible repercussions on persons living with HIV, calling on the government to urgently step in and activate the national HIV/AIDS fund to remedy the situation.
The development, he said, spelt doom for gains made in the fight against HIV/AIDs in line with meeting the UNAIDS 95-95-95 target.
“Since this information came to our knowledge, we have become grimly apprehensive, not knowing what will befall the over 35,000 PLHIVs and moreover about 250,000 adults and 12,000 children who are currently surviving on ARVs,” he said.
According to the GHANET president, although, provision was made for the establishment of a fund for HIV/AIDs in 2016, as part of the review of the Ghana AIDS Commission Act, it was yet to see the light of day, six years on.
That, he noted, had contributed to slow down in HIV/AIDS advocacy and activities to drum home preventive mechanisms against the disease.
“Meanwhile, new infections in the last five years have averaged 19,000 per year. The number of AIDS- related deaths within the same period averaging 14,000 per year with adolescent girls and women accounting for 20 percent of total new infections last year alone.”
In view of rise in new infections, Mr Ortsin appealed to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to honour his pledge made at the 2021 United Nations high level meeting on HIV/AIDs to commit US$ 100million, over a five-year period to fighting the menace.
That, he believed could be a seed capital to activating the fund, adding that “the activation of the Fund has now become a national emergency that can no longer wait.”
Mr Ortsin appealed to the Minister of Finance who is clothed with the power to activate the fund to include it in the 2023 appropriation bill to be presented to Parliament in coming days.
“We call on all Ghanaians and the general public to support this campaign. HIV is no respecter of persons, we are all at risk and we must refrain from being judgemental about it.
For the sake of the future of our young people, we must all hold our hands together and call on the government to activate this fund in the 2023 appropriation bill,” he urged.
The president of the National Association of PLHIVs (NAP+), Elsie Ayeh, said government must be seen to walk the talk of redeeming promises made towards HIV/AIDs fight.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH