Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has asked the new Governing Board of the Ghana AIDS Commission to ensure that the strategic goals of the National HIV and AIDS Plan 2021-2025 are achieved in line with the Sustainable Development Goals’ target of ending AIDS by 2030.
The Vice President said the National Strategy guides the multi-sectoral response and that if all stakeholders work together to implement the Plan, Ghana would end AIDS and achieve HIV epidemic control.
Dr Bawumia asked the Board to keep its focus on achieving the goal and objectives of the Strategic Plan, strengthen mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation, effectively track performance and accountability, and adhere to the principle of teamwork.
The Vice President gave advice when he swore into office a 19-member Governing Board, chaired by the Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Kwaku Afriyie, at the Jubilee House last Thursday.
The National Strategic Plan seeks to reduce new infections and AIDS deaths by 85%, as well as eliminate mother-to-child transmission. The Strategy ensures that prevention, testing and treatment are given as a comprehensive package through standard models of differentiated services, to ensure that groups, communities and individuals receive tailor-made services that meet their specific needs.
Dr Bawumia said since January 2017, Ghana has made tremendous progress in its response to the fight against HIV. New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 14% and 19%, respectively, between 2016 and 2020, as a direct result of the scaling up of testing and anti-retroviral treatment services using differentiated service delivery models throughout the country.
Vice President Bawumia, however, said despite the success chalked, HIV remained a major public health concern, one of the leading causes of death in Ghana.
According to Dr Bawumia, with more than 245,000 of the estimated 346,000 persons living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment in the country, “we should not be seeing such significant numbers of new infections and AIDS-related deaths.”
Yet, clients on life-saving anti-retroviral treatment, according to the Vice President, switch to herbal or spiritual substitutes in response to false claims of cure, discontinue the anti-retroviral treatment which more than often results in increased viral load, and eventually death.
He urged the Board members to use their experience and technical expertise to halt the unfortunate development by strengthening the “Back to Care Campaign” which the Commission has embarked upon.
Vice President Bawumia assured the government’s commitment to increasing domestic resources to meet the funding needs of the national HIV AIDS programme through the National HIV and AIDS Fund.
Dr Bawumia urged the Board to continue with efforts by the previous Board to work with the Minister for Finance and submit to Cabinet, the necessary modalities to ensure that HIV financing becomes a shared responsibility with, industries whose activities create conditions for the spread of HIV.
“Let me remind you that the Commission’s mandate is, principally, to prevent and control the HIV and AIDS epidemic, to promote and protect the rights of persons living with HIV, and to provide for related purposes,” he told the Board of AIDS Commission.
This goal must guide the decisions and actions of the Governing Board at all times. I must also draw your attention to the fact that this current decade is aimed at ending AIDS, and achieving HIV epidemic control as enshrined in the SDGs.”
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD