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Access to anti-retroviral drug is deficient - Dr. El-Adas


Access to anti-retroviral drug is deficient - Dr. El-Adas

Ghana is about 70 per cent deficient in the supply of anti-retroviral drugs to the 230,000 people living with HIV in the country.


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Dr. Angela El-Adas, Acting Director General of Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), who said this in Accra on Monday, added that "Currently treatment cover about 37 per cent of the people living with HIV".

She was addressing participants at the organisational and capacity development workshop for the Regional HIV Network of Military Forces in West and Central Africa.

The five-day workshop will validate results and analyse context and constrains of the network, set options to develop the network, expand the organizational identity and finalise action and work plan framework for 2010.

Dr. El-Adas said by the end of 2010, access to anti-retroviral drugs would have increased from 36 per cent to 48 per cent.

She explained that the universal access target with anti retroviral drugs set in 2003, was yet to cover all those living with HIV and AIDS and said that the biggest dilemma of stigmatization and discrimination was making it difficult for most people living with disease to visit the hospital.

However, Dr. El-Adas said it was not all people living with HIV that needed the drugs since some of them did not meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) criteria of DC4 350 level of immunity.

She explained that the DC4 350 was the measure of the level of immunity which required people living HIV and AIDS to be under anti-retroviral for life.

Dr. El-Adas called on personnel of the security agencies to live healthy life to keep themselves away from HIV and AIDS and commended them for their active role in the fight against the pandemic.

Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith, Defence Minister, whose speech was read on his behalf, said HIV and AIDS threatened operational capabilities of the military at the tactical level, engendering combat effectiveness, unit cohesion moral discipline and human resource qualities.

He said HIV prevalence within the security agencies was related to age, time in the service and maturity of the pandemic, policy initiatives and activities of the command.

Lt-Gen Smith: "Command centred approaches to the HIV prevention are more effective in reducing HIV risk than reliance on individual behavioral, medical or human right based education and training".

He stressed that post conflict transitions increased vulnerability to HIV transmission, therefore, Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration programmes were important for HIV prevention among the military and extended family.

"To win the war against HIV and AIDS demands efforts of all the military in the world, "he said.

Mr. Daouda Toure, United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Ghana, said the establishment of the network was in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1308, which recognized HIV and AIDS as a threat to peace and security and requested all countries to set up strategies to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

He said key lessons had been learnt from the previous examples of these networks in other sub-regions, especially by tackling HIV as within the general frame work of sexually transmitted diseases interventions within the security agencies.

Mr Toure said the military had the potential in spearheading the national HIV and AIDS response and cited Ethiopia, South Africa and Thailand where the military led the way in piloting specific new interventions.

He noted that such interventions included treatment programmes or circumcision of men as well as providing unique opportunities to help alter wider social norms and become agents of change.

Dr. Leopold Zekeng, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, said out of the 33.4 million people living with HIV world-wide, about six million of them were reported to be living in West and Central Africa where the prevalence rate ranged from below one per cent in Cape Verde, Niger and Senegal to more than 10 per cent in the Central Africa Republic.

He said for every two persons on medication there were five new infections and added that people were getting infected with HIV and AIDS faster than they started taking drugs.

Dr. Zekeng said that 97 per cent of the new infections occurred in the low income countries and 40 per cent among young people between 15 and 24 years and 48 per cent among women.

He stressed that this was a clear evidence for all and sundry to redouble efforts and commitment to accelerate the universal access to management within the framework of multi-sectoral response that included the armed forces and other security agencies.
Credit GNA, 14 December 2009



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