The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has inaugurated the new Governing Board of the Ghana AIDS Commission with a charge to the new Board 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.
“This National Strategy guides the multi-sectoral response, and I am confident that, if all stakeholders work together in implementing this Plan, Ghana shall surely end AIDS and achieved HIV epidemic control.
“I charge the Governing Board to keep its focus on achieving the goal and objectives of the strategic Plan, strengthen mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation, effective tracking of performance and accountability, and adhere to the principle of leaving no one behind,” Dr Bawumia stated when he swore in the 19-member Governing Board, chaired by the Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Hon Kwaku Afriyie, at the Jubilee House on Thursday, March 3, 2022.
The National Strategic Plan seeks to reduce new infections and AIDS deaths by eighty-five percent (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 recalled that since January 2017, Ghana has made tremendous progress in her response in 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 scaling up of testing and anti-retroviral treatment services using differentiated service delivery models throughout the country.
Again, within the same period, the uptake of HIV testing increased by 80%, whilst the number of HIV positive pregnant mothers, receiving anti-retroviral therapy to prevent mother-to-child transmission, increased by 159%.
“Our work, however, is far from done. HIV remains a major public health concern, and AIDS is one of the leading causes of death in Ghana, with thousands of deaths annually over the last five years. With more than 245,000 of the estimated 346,000 persons living with HIV on anti-retroviral treatment, we should not be seeing such significant numbers of new infections and AIDS-related deaths.
“Yet, clients on life-saving anti-retroviral treatment switch to herbal or spiritual substitutes in response to false claims of cure. Discontinuation of anti-retroviral treatment often results in increased viral load, and eventually death. Newly appointed members of the Board, I am hopeful that you will use your experience and technical expertise to halt this unfortunate development by strengthening the “Back to Care Campaign” which the Commission has embarked upon.”
While pledging Government’s commitment to increasing domestic resources to meet the funding demands 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.
Charging the Board to hit the ground running, the Vice President emphasized: “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. 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.”