Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) have been advised to begin to mainstream HIV/AIDS response activities in their planning and budgeting to ensure the sustainability of the campaign.
Local resource mobilization has become necessary to sustain the fight against the disease in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic burden on national resources.
Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, the Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), advised an online meeting with stakeholders.
The online meeting was to afford the Commission the opportunity for broad-based consultation with stakeholders on the National Strategic Plan (NSP 2021-2025).
Mr Atuahene also pointed out that even though funding to the Commission has been decentralized, the 0.5 percent District Assembly Common Fund allocation for HIV and AIDS activities was however too small to achieve its purpose.
The Director-General was, however, quick to add that there was an ongoing discussion at the highest level of the Commission for a possible increase.
On the resource mobilization strategy of the Commission, Mr Atuahene disclosed that the HIV Response fund has been established and would be launched soon after the COVID-19 pandemic was over.
He said stigmatization was an important part of the response, stressing that it was a crime to stigmatize a person with HIV and AIDS whether at home, school, or workplace.
He said the NSP (2016-2020) was founded on the international commitment to the 90-90-90 target, adding that the NSP (2021-2025) would see some additions being made including access to self HIV testing kits by the general public.
Dr Kwame Essah, Lead Consultant, NSP for HIV and AIDS who delivered a presentation on the review of the NSP (2021-2025) draft document for stakeholders input, said the plan provided evidence-based and results-oriented strategies for the implementation of the national response.
He hinted that the objectives of the NSP (2021-2025) were to empower the population to prevent new infections; ensure the availability of and accessibility to prevention, treatment, care, and support services, mitigate the social and economic effect of HIV on persons infected or affected; and ensure the availability of adequate funding to execute the policy strategies.
Responding to stakeholders’ concern on HIV patients traveling long distances to access Antiretroviral drugs, Dr Essah noted that there were a total of 488 facilities providing Antiretroviral (ART) services countrywide and stressed on the need to scale up.
Stakeholders were also concerned about the delay in the release of the Common Fund allocation for HIV response by the Assemblies and suggested a time frame be given them to release the funds as and when the money hit their accounts.