Ghana asked to pay more attention to children living with HIV

22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) Amsterdam, Netherlands. Copyright: Marten van Dijl / IAS Photo shows: Positive Flame march

The Reverend John Azumah, an HIV Ambassador with the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), has called for a holistic system of care for the over 38,000 Ghanaian children who are currently living with HIV in the country.

He said many of these children who are living with their grandmothers, caregivers and other relatives as well as in a few orphanages, lack adequate care in the areas of proper monitoring of the intake of their antiretroviral drugs, regular medical check-ups, proper food intake and the essential multivitamins needed as supplements to the Antiretroviral drug.

Rev Azumah, who is also the founder of the Motherly Love Orphanage located at Kwabenya in Accra, made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Friday when he received on behalf of the Orphanage, a donation of food items and some toiletries donated by the David Owusu Ministries (DOM), an International and Inter-Denominational Organization, Head quartered in London, United Kingdom.

The food items included bags of rice, gari, beans, maize, sugar, cartons of biscuits, some soft drinks, detergents and toiletries, and it was presented by Prophet David Owusu, President of DOM, together with Ms Marie-Paulie Owusu, Administrator of the DOM Ghana.

Rev Azumah thanked Prophet Owusu and his team, for showing the act of love for the 32 orphans in his care, 70 per cent of whom are living with HIV while the other 30 per cent are without HIV infection but are affected by the passing way of their parents through AIDS.

He said because many of the HIV infected and affected children were living with their grandmothers and also face stigmatisation, their care was not properly being monitored.

“Many of them don’t take the antiretroviral drug consistently and develop drug resistance, some of them are not taken for regular check ups’ and the health system also lack adequate mechanisms for proper follow ups.

“This is leading to the deterioration in the health of some of the children and even death of a number of them, who most of the time do not understand why they should take medicine every day of their lives”, Rev Azumah said.

According to the HIV Ambassador, the issue of acceptance of the HIV affected children in homes was still a problem, and therefore the need to intensify education that would “kill” the stigma surrounding living with such children.

Rev Azumah said because of the dwindling donor support towards HIV activities in Ghana, government had reduced the bit on education but rather prioritising the supply of the antiretroviral medication which was very much needed to suppress the virus in people.

While commending the government for leading in the training of specialised health professionals who would be ready to care for Persons living with HIV and AIDS across the country, Rev Azumah said continuous education on ending stigma should be ongoing, without which stigmatisation of persons would continue, and could lead to the spreading of the disease.

He appealed to the government to absorb the laboratory fees of children who visit the health facilities for their regular lab test through the National health insurance scheme.

He said a proper mechanism should be put in place for the nurses to do follow ups on children living with HIV, and make sure they were being monitored well as is done in the cases of TB patients.

Rev Azumah also urged the government to make adequate supply of the paediatric antiretroviral drugs at the facilities all the time since the periodic shortages frustrate the children and their care givers.

On his part, Prophet Owusu commended Rev Azumah and his wife, Mrs Lydia Azumah, who are all living with HIV for the past 18 years for taking upon themselves to provide a home for the children.

He said the gesture would not be a onetime activity but would be continued, while his Ministry would help see some of the children through education.

He urged Christians to follow their founder, Jesus Christ’s mandate of caring for the vulnerable and poor in society, adding that “as Christians we all need to receive people, we need to  accommodate  and be with such people so that they can also feel loved and appreciated”.

Ms Owusu said the DOM has five ministries namely; Missions, Media, Care, Publishing and Leadership and Summits, and that it was under the DOM Care ministry, which feeds and shelters the homeless, takes care of orphans, widows and widowers, as well as gives free medical care to the less privileged across the globe that the items were being presented to the Motherly Love Orphanage.

“We have already carried out several of such activities in Kenya and the UK but in Ghana this is the first of its kind.

“However, we intend to carry out several activities not only in Motherly Love Orphanage but in other orphanages and less privileged groups nationwide”, she noted.

Ms Owusu said “The purpose of this visit is to fulfil the scriptures in James 1:27, ‘Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world.

“We believe that this activity will foster joy and confidence in these less privileged children”.

Source: GNA

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