Parliament worried over relapse in HIV and AIDS fight
Parliament has expressed the need for the nation to intensify efforts at preventing and controlling HIV and AIDS, saying that, there has been a relapse after gains made in the fight against the menace.
The House described as frightening, the 20,000 new infections recoded in 2016 alone, insisting that, there was the need to intensify efforts to bring the prevalence of the disease down.
Despite the gains made over the last decade, there were concerns that the nation was backsliding because of negative attitudes, stigma, bad behaviour and complacency.
The House raised the concerns after a commemorative statement by Dr Kwabena Twum-Nuamah, Chairman of the Committee on Health to mark this year’s World AIDS Day, which fell on December 1, 2017, and coincided with Ghana’s National Farmers Day.
The House apparently deferred the statement to this week to enable the House to critically discuss the issue, which globally takes a heavy toll on health and life.
This prompted the United Nations to designate the day since, 1988, to heighten awareness on the disease and find ways to bring it under control.
Ghana joined the rest of the globe to mark this year’s World AIDS Day (WAD), under the local theme: “The Right to Health: Know Your HIV Status, Seek Early Treatment”.
World AIDS Day is marked annually to raise awareness on the AIDS epidemic, its impact on persons infected or affected and also remember those who have died from the epidemic.
The global theme for the WAD 2017: “My Health, My Right” focuses on the right to health and explores the challenges people around the world face in exercising their rights.
Mr Alban Bagbin, the Second Deputy Speaker, making his remark on the statement, urged Members of the House to intensify their effort at activities that would bring down the disease.
He said the statement is also a wakeup call for everybody to go for voluntary testing and adopt life styles that would protect them from the disease.
Dr Bernard Oko-Boye, Member of Parliament (MP) for Ledzokuku in his contribution, stated that the nation must raise additional resources to support HIV/AIDS campaign since donor support for the programme was dwindling.
He said there is the need to address the issue of stigma, which was very critical to reducing HIV prevalence in the nation.
He said many HIV patients nowadays, were born with the condition and has nothing to do with their exposure to certain habits or bad lifestyles.
Dr Oko-Boye also noted that, it is about time Ghana chronicles all children, who were born with HIV, not just to have the figures, but to have a policy that would address their medical, economic and psychological challenges so that they do not become a “burden” for the nation in future.
Dr Bernice Adiku Heloo, MP for Hohoe South in her contribution, stated that, though Ghana has achieved success in reduction from mother to child in HIIV transmission, a lot more needs to be done in the overall HIV/AIDS campaign.
She stressed the need for the nation to focus on preventive efforts in the HIV/AIDS campaign, since donor support for HIV/AIDS and malaria programmes are dwindling.