The training is a partnership between University of Ghana (UG) College of Health Sciences and Brown Tufts and Yale Universities from the US.
The project has a 10-year vision to develop human resource capacity with a full set of skills to meet challenges related to the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Ghana.
Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana launching the project said there was high expectation from the partnership, especially in teaching and research and how it could be utilised in management of HIV and AIDS in Ghana.
He said the partnership called for commitment from parties involved for it success and noted that despite the reduction from 3.5 per cent in 2003 to 1.5 per cent in 2010 more needed to be done to stem the tide.
Prof. Aryeetey lauded the initiative and commended Brown Tufts University for partnering University of Ghana to build capacity of health workers to manage the pandemic.
Prof. Aaron Lawson, Provost of College of Health Science stated that the launch marked a major achievement in the College’s broader quest to be part of a more responsive, effective and efficient public health sector in Ghana.
He explained that the partnership was intended to develop excellence in education and research by strengthening faculty capacity at the University resulting in enhanced teaching, and applied research to effectively address challenges of HIV and AIDS in Ghana.
“We are launching a flagship programme aimed at increasing the capacity of health professionals in Ghana and the sub-region to respond to the HIV and AIDS pandemic,” he added.
Prof. Lawson said the Ghana Partnership Framework in support of HIV and AIDS National Response was focused on five key goals; to reduce the number of new infections by 30 per cent by 2013, increasing anti-retroviral therapy (ART) coverage from 30 per cent to 60 per cent by 2013 and strengthening health management systems needed to achieve the prevention, treatment and care goals.
The rest are strengthening capacity of community Based Organisations (CBOs) to provide information and services to most-at-risk population and people living with HIV.
“The College of Health Sciences has a vision to bring good health, comfort and happiness to all people including those with HIV and AIDS,” he added.
Mr Peter Argo, Acting USAID Ghana Mission Director said the Agency was proud to be a partner to government to help improve quality of health services and empower individuals and communities to adopt good health practices.
The academic partnership, he said, provided an opportunity for shared learning and enhanced capacity building that would empower the College of Health Sciences to be more effective in the national HIV and AIDS response.
Mr Argo said the twining of University of Ghana and Brown Tufts University was an excellent initiative to mobilise the unique strengths and expertise that the two institutions possessed to address developmental issues, adding that USAID had recognised the powerful role of African higher educational institutions to foster the development of their countries.
“Supporting strategic academic initiatives of the sort was part of how USAID was fundamentally transforming itself from a traditional aid agency into a modern development enterprise,” he added.
Mr Argo said USAID expected to see a comprehensive curriculum that mainstreamed training in HIV and AIDS across all health disciplines, an opportunity for faculty development in teaching and applied research, structured mentoring of junior faculty and postgraduates at the end of the programme.
Dr Angela El-Adas, Director General, Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) said the HIV and AIDS programme between the two universities was a top priority for government since HIV was a major development issue.
She noted that there was the need for human resource base and capacity building in addressing the prevalence of HIV and AIDS.
Professor Tim Flanigan, Principal Investigator, Brown Tufts University said collaboration of the two universities started five years ago and expressed delight at the fruition of the partnership to strengthening the curriculum and help the University of Ghana to better train the trainers as one of the effective way higher education could attack the AIDS pandemic.
“Advancing medical education in Africa is not only important to improving health care, but also to brightening the continent’s economic future“, he said.