A nine-member AIDS Committee has been inaugurated in the Hohoe Municipality to provide high-level advocacy for HIV prevention and control in the Municipality.
The Committee will also provide leadership in decentralised planning, supervision and support of HIV programmes irrespective of the funding source as well as foster linkages among stakeholders.
Madam Mary Naa Asheley Anyomi, Coordinator, Volta Regional Technical Support Unit, Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), in a speech read on behalf of the President, said the GAC Act 938 had made copious provisions to safeguard the rights of persons living with HIV, establish HIV and AIDS fund and promote resource mobilisation.
She said with hard work and commitment, the goals set including the “ambitious 95-95-95 fast track target” could be achieved.
“By 2025, 95 per cent of all people infected with HIV should know their status, 95 per cent of all people diagnosed to have HIV would receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 95 per cent of people receiving antiretroviral treatment would have viral suppression.”
Madam Anyomi said achieving the targets was necessary to position the nation favourably towards ending AIDS by 2030 in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“I am fully aware that at the heart of achieving these goals is the need to strengthen our resource mobilisation drive. Therefore, the government has established the national HIV and AIDS funds to ensure that our national response is financially self-reliant.”
She said it was the only way to sustain and advance the national response amid dwindling donor support.
The Coordinator urged the Committee to support the government in its drive to achieve the targets set adding that “as a nation, we pride ourselves on having achieved a generally low prevalence which is at 1.7 per cent in 2019 for the general population.”
She said new infections were however increasing likewise the Hohoe Municipality with an estimated adult HIV prevalence of 1.38 per cent and 105 estimated new infections in 2019.
Madam Anyomi said there was no room for complacency and added that “we must work hard to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.”
The Committee has Mr Andrews Teddy Ofori, Hohoe Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) as Chairperson, Togbe Adzofuwusu IV, Representing the Traditional Council, Madam Enyonam Afi Amafuga, Volta Regional Director of Education acting as Municipal Director, and Dr Pius Mensah, Municipal Director of Health.
Others are; Rev. Fr. Isaac Benuyenah, Representative Christian Group, Madam Felicia Agbekor, Representing Persons living with HIV, Mr Ridwan Mairiga, Muslim Rep, Madam Emma Amuzu, CSO dealing with HIV and AIDS Rep, and Mr Kodjo Mawugbe as HIV Focal Person.
Mr Ofori, Hohoe MCE in an address said the inclusivity of the vulnerable in the development agenda of the Municipality was critical to achieving the vision of the Assembly.
“When a percentage of the population is prevented from being productive, when they are unable to achieve their potential or when their voices are simply not heard, there cannot be a sustainable development of our Municipality.”
He said there was a growing recognition of the importance of ensuring that people with HIV and AIDS were integrated into the socio-economic development efforts in the Municipality.
The MCE said activities and programmes undertaken for the past years focused on counselling and testing of the general people, counselling and testing of ANC clients on HIV to prevent mother to child transmission, provide Anti-Retroviral Treatment services and public education through radios and during large public gatherings.
Mr Ofori said since HIV/AIDS prevalence was high in the Municipality, the Assembly continued to put in efforts to sensitise and educate the public on the spread, prevention and avoidance of stigmatisation.
He said one area the Committee intended to focus attention on this year was School Alert Programme adding that, though it had been running in some schools in the Municipality, the Committee intended to expand it to other schools where they could reach out to the youth with HIV messages for them to make responsible decision when confronted with such dilemma.
The MCE said government and Assembly support had greatly made impacts on the fight against HIV adding that vulnerable people with HIV would be registered unto the exempt category of the National Health Insurance Scheme so they could access free healthcare.
The Committee will also monitor and evaluate programmes of the decentralised HIV response and promote research and dissemination of information on HIV/AIDS.
The Committee Members swore the official oath, the oath of secrecy and were sworn-in by the Hohoe Magistrate.