Anti-retroviral drugs are not for sale – Dr Ayisi Addo  

Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo

Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, Programmes Manager, National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NACP) has reiterated that the anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs are free. 

He said the government will continue to ensure the medication is accessible throughout the country.  

Also, the Ghana Health Service provides treatment to persons living with HIV and had over 500 antiretroviral sites across all districts, providing treatment for persons living with HIV and over 4,000 testing and counselling service delivery sites for the public. 

Speaking at Ghana News Agency Tema Industrial News Hub Boardroom Dialogue Platform Dr. Ayisi Addo, said all the people living with HIV were part of an organised group – the National Association of Persons Living with HIV (NAPLAS) – which represents their interest. 

The Stakeholder Engagement is a platform rolled out for state and non-state actors to address national issues and serves as a motivational mechanism to recognize the editorial contribution of reporters towards national development in general and the growth and promotion of the Tema GNA as the industrial news hub. 

Dr Ayisi Addo said most persons have had to be offered treatment in District Hospital stressing that, in addition to the work of service providers, some members of the NAPPLAS called Models of Hope provide peer support and facilitate drug pick-up in Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) sites. 

He said the Programme continues to provide free ART with the availability of sufficient drugs for treatment of persons living with HIV. 

He said one of the core mandates of the NACP was to provide drugs for the treatment of persons living with HIV with Antiretroviral Therapy to improve their quality of life and reduce HIV−related morbidity and mortality. 

Dr Ayisi Addo said the programme prioritized monitoring and evaluation of the stock level of antiretroviral drugs, adding that monthly stock reports received from the Central and regional medical stores also provided regular and timely updates of available drugs at the national level and regional facilities with an assurance of quality supply of medications. 

Dr Ayisi Addo said: “We also conduct quality assurance and post-market surveillance for these commodities to ensure that people are taking the right ones,” emphasising that, intermittently, education was reinforced with ARV Logistic Management training for service providers offering those services. 

He noted that information and training on the safe and effective use of antiretroviral drugs for health professionals and others in a position to prescribe ART, dispense and regularly update the information for timely reporting, was an intervention put in place by NACP. 

He observed that despite the effort to bring the service closer to the people, they prefer to access their medications at other distant sites because of stigma and discrimination. “They literally run away from the service.  

“Community Health Nurses offer other health services, so initially we wanted to use them to provide antiretroviral services but the persons living with HIV were not comfortable because they were afraid others in the community may get to know their status.” 

He further stated that such people preferred to travel long distances to receive Antiretroviral Therapy despite the associated cost and inconvenience and said an enhanced education on stigma and discrimination was needed to change the trend. 

The Programmes Manager, therefore, called on the public to support persons living with HIV and encourage them to seek treatment at designated sites closest to them. 

Source: GNA 

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