Project to curb right abuses of PLHIV launched

A two-year project aimed at curbing human rights abuses when Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) and Tuberculosis (TB) want to access quality healthcare was launched in Accra yesterday.

The “Human Rights Intervention” under the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS treatment is being implemented by the Ghana West Africa Programme to Combat AIDS and STI (WAPCAS) in 20 districts in six out of the 10 old regions of Ghana.

It is expected to address issues of stigma and discrimination in health facilities and the community at large in implementation areas, while strengthening service delivery and support systems for patients diagnosed of such ailment.

Patients would also be expected to benefit from pro bono legal services, an active crisis response facility in cases of abuse as training for health care providers on human rights abuses and medical ethics related to HIV and TB would be scaled up under the project.

Launching the project on the theme; “Keep the rights light on: removing human rights barriers, improving access to legal and health services,” Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Joseph Whittal observed that the intervention had come in handy to protect the rights and PHLIVs and TB patients.

In his view, PHLIVs had endured years of stigmatisation and discrimination despite the passage of Act 938 of Ghana AIDS Commission Act 2016 which sought to intensify a national response to managing HIV and AIDS and ensuring that issues relating to persons living with such conditions were given the necessary attention.

Pledging the Commission’s support to the project, the Commissioner expressed hope that the initiative “would go a long way in bringing enhanced focus to the need for all of us to respect the human rights of PLHIVs while working to reduce new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths through the delivery of a comprehensive package of care to these persons and other populations at high risk of infection.”

Mr Whittal hoped the scope of the project would be extended to other areas in the nearest future, urging persons directly impacted with the initiative to transfer their learning to colleagues in other regions to reduce stigma and discrimination.

Executive Director of WAPCAS, Mrs Comfort Asamoah-Adu observed that “it will not be possible to fast track HIV response in the country and end the AIDS epidemic by the targeted year 2030 without addressing human rights and gender inequalities.”

Expressing concern over emerging cases of the disease particularly as 2018 figures showed new HIV infection hitting 17,649, (adults 15,085 and children 2,564), Mrs Asamoah-Adu expressed her organisations determination to build a stigma-free society for PLHIV’s and TB.

She mentioned that WAPCAS was working with CHRAJ to revive its discrimination reporting system under the project as it engaged the Ghana Police Service and other institutions on issues of human rights.

“We seek to a stigma-free society through community empowerment and social mitigation activities, creating an enabling environment that addresses human rights barriers, helping to increase gender equity and improving access to services,” the Executive Director stated.

The Chairman of the Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund, Collins Agyarko-Nti appealed to government to dedicate funds to the fund to keep up the fight against HIV/AIDs globally.

He believed such a move would improve the country’s credentials on the international front as committed to eliminating the disease and support other countries to do same.

By Abigail Annoh

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