The Ghana–West Africa Programme to Combat Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (WAPCAS) has launched the Human Rights Intervention project to help eliminate stigma and discrimination of vulnerable populations.
The intervention was launched in Accra on Thursday on the theme: “Keep the Rights Lights On: Removing Human Rights Barriers – Improving Access to Legal and Health Services.”
It seeks to reduce stigma and discrimination at all levels against Persons living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), cured Tuberculosis (TB) patients and other vulnerable groups.
It is also to train health care providers on human rights and medical ethics related to HIV and TB, aimed at reducing HIV related gender discrimination, and harmful gender norms against females.
The intervention is being implemented by WAPCAS in collaboration with key actors including the Educational Assessment and Research Centre, Women Lawyers in Development for Africa, the Special Education Unit for the Blind under the Ministry of Education, the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAG) among others with funding from the Global Fund.
Speaking at the launch, Mrs Comfort Asamoah-Adu, the Executive Director of WAPCAS, said under the literacy component of the intervention, some selected persons living with HIV, cured TB patients and other vulnerable populations had been trained as legal literacy volunteers to educate peers on rights and responsibilities.
She said WAPCAS was working with community members as well as opinion and traditional leaders with regard to the crisis’ response initiative under the intervention and had secured services of some lawyers who would follow up on cases of abuse.
Mrs Asamoah-Adu said with regard to HIV, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) had called on countries to harness the next several years as a key window of opportunity for scaling up the HIV response in three mains areas.
She said the areas for harnessing as suggested by the UNAIDS, include HIV prevention, testing and treatment, adding that it would however not be possible to fast-track the response and end the AIDS epidemic by the targeted year being 2030, without addressing human rights and gender inequalities.
She said the current phase of the intervention was targeting 20 districts in six out of the formerly 10 regions of Ghana, addressing stigma at the workplace, community level and most especially at the health facility.
Launching the intervention programme, Mr Joseph Whittal, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, applauded WAPCAs for the consistent and persistent efforts in working to reduce stigmatisation and discrimination.
He said the Commission was solidly behind WAPCAS and collaborating organisations on the project with the hope that it would go a long to enhance respect for the human rights of persons living with HIV, whilst working to reduce infections.
Mr Whittal reiterated the commitment of CHRAJ and all relevant agencies of state to protect the human rights of every citizen, adding that projects such as this was worthy of support.