Thursday, 10 December 2015
Collaborating To Realise 5-Year Target Of HIV Prevention
1st December which is World AIDS Day, affords the global Community, the opportunity to take stock on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) pandemic. The Ghana AIDS Commission is the national coordinating body on HIV and AIDS, responsible for educating the public on how to prevent HIV and reduce stigma against People Living HIVs.
The Ghana AIDS Commission also deserves applause for the transparency involved in choosing its Implementation Partners (IPs). The Partners are often selected through a Tender Bid, scrutinized by independent evaluators and have their capacities strengthened in Technical, Financial and Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation.
It is significant to note that the Commission this time around, does not hesitate to sanction none performing Implementation Partners and those who misappropriate funds for HIV programmes. In some instances, these erring Implementation Partners (IPs) are made to cough out the funds embezzled. These proactive steps have brought sanity into the operations of Implementing Partners. However there is still room for improvement.
The Global Community has set “FAST TRACK – “90-90-90” targets for the next five years that is 2016-2020. These new targets require countries to ensure that 90 percent of all persons living with HIV get to know their status, 90 percent of those who know their status receive life-saving antiretroviral treatment and 90 percent of people who are on treatment will effectively have their viral loads suppressed. Ghana can achieve these results in the next five years, through innovative HIV prevention messages to the general public.
Confidential HIV testing and counseling is a crucial and non-negotiable ingredient in achieving the 90 percent target of all persons living with HIV getting to know their status. It is said that HIV and AIDS treatment, care and support begin with ‘Knowing Your Status’.
This means that HIV and AIDS accoutrements such as condoms, test kits and posters must be readily available and in the right quantities for use in the field. CD4 machines for viral load counts are delicate necessities to achieving 90 percent of people who are on treatment to effectively have their viral loads suppressed. It is important to ensure that the machines are available in all parts of the country soonest.
Thank God Antiretroviral Drugs are now being manufactured in Ghana. This is obviously a source of hope to People Living with HIV. Kudos to the Mahama administration for the recent 6-million-cedi support to produce ARVs locally.
The Ghana AIDS Commission and the National AIDS Control Programme have no excuses whatsoever to talk of shortage of antiretrovirals in the 2016-2020 strategic years of implementation. Civil Society Organisations must be made to retain trained staff for at least five years to serve within the periods of the new “90-90-90” target for the next five years (2016-2020). It is on record that some CSOs blatantly violated the remuneration arrangements of their staff.
It must be clearly understood that HIV and AIDS intervention is a serious national activity which requires trained counselors, monitoring and evaluation officers, accounts officers, project coordinators and most crucial of all, trained peer educators to achieve set goals. Therefore the selfish attitudes on the part of the so called founders and owners of NGOs must be checked.
The AIDS Ambassadors initiative is another feather in the cap of the Ghana AIDS Commission. There is the need for Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV (GIP) as enshrined in the Paris Declaration to represent the country at world gatherings of HIV and AIDS.
As a people, let's take a cue from East and Southern Africa, where a good number of clients who actually feel the pinch of HIV are supported to attend international forums. These exposures enable them to interact with and learn best practices while showcasing their home experience. Through these exposes they are able to attract huge funds back home to support governments and organisations working to prevent HIV.
On an auspicious day like World AIDS Day, it is just proper to commend some individuals like Dr. Naa Ashely Vanderpuye –Donton and Dr. Commey of Korle Bu Fever’s Unit, as well as institutions like West Africa AID Foundation, University of Ghana Legon and Ministry of Finance for their invaluable role in HIV prevention programmes.
These among other unsung heroes continue to show great passion for HIV and AIDS interventions in Ghana. Let's all support the AIDS Commission to be more proactive when it comes to matters concerning the new “FAST TRACK –“90-90-90” target for 2016-2020 so that Ghana will surely be on course to yielding positive results in HIV prevention programmes.
BY: EFO SELASE WORNAMEH, HIV AND AIDS CONSULTANT.