The two-day meeting, which attracted participants from Ghana, Togo, Benin, La Cote d?Ivoire and Nigeria who form ALCO?s member countries along the Corridor, would take stock of the Organisation?s activities implemented, assess achievements made, identify challenges and collectively strategise to find solutions to them.
Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, Minister of Health, in an address read on his behalf, said ALCO was formed over 10 years ago, to respond primarily to facilitate trade and address health concerns that were associated with the movement of goods and people within the five countries.
He commended the Organisation for the tremendous successes recorded over the years, especially on slowing down inter-border rate of transmission of HIV through extensive checks and education within member countries along this corridor.
According to him among the five countries Ghana has the largest stretch of the corridor, as the entire coastline from Aflao (Ghana-Togo border) to Elubo (Ghana-Cote d?Ivoire border) falls within the Organisation?s operations.
He said in facilitating trade, it is natural that the transportation and security component of the movement of goods and people are enhanced to avoid the usual delays and urged the members to find a way of collectively addressing these delays.
The Health Minister said Government has taken steps to restructure the eastern corridor from Sogakope to Aflao and the western corridor, which is from Takoradi to Elubo, explaining that the Takoradi (Agona Junction), to Elubo road is being funded by the World Bank as part of the ALCO Trade facilitation projects.
Dr Agyemen-Mensah expressed concern about the use of unapproved routes along the corridor and encouraged discussions among member countries that share borders, to address such situations.
He commended ALCO for strengthening its operations at the two border points in Ghana, especially in the area of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, but urged participants to strategise and come out with interventions sub-populations involving men sleeping with men and female sex workers, as well as casual heterosexual partners and those with stable heterosexual partners to stem the spread of HIV.
According to him a recent study on modes of transmission of HIV has revealed that these three key categories of populations drive the HIV epidemic.
He encouraged ALCO to forge new partnerships as funding from traditional partners is dwindling.
Professor John Idoko, Chairman of the Governing Board, said it is important that the Organisation works hard and efficiently to concretise its visions, objectives and missions and expand its actives beyond the Abidjan-Lagos corridor, and target other corridors.
He said their new vision must embrace new activities and focus its interventions on issues of reproductive health and emerging diseases, and dealing with HIV and AIDS and transport and facilitation issues.
However, the Organisation needs to move away from overreliance on donor funding and focus on internal resource mobilisation.
He urged members to strengthen their relationship as well as with ECOWAS, UEMOA, WAHO and donors to ensure further assistance.
He asked Governments of member countries to honour their commitments to the institution by paying their contributions regularly and on time to allow the Executive Secretariat to perform adequately its main functions.
He acknowledged the effort of GAC for accepting to host the meeting and also for the continuous assistance to ALCO to achieve its objectives.
Mr Isaac Adjei- Mensah, Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways, commended ALCO for its role in facilitating effective trade and movement of people along these corridors, but requested that they collaborate with the Ebola team and other institutions that are working on various health issues in member countries and beyond to curb the spread of diseases.