NAP+Ghana, partners, call for urgent redress of persistent medicine stock-outs

The national and regional leadership of the Network of Persons Living with HIV (NAP+Ghana) and individuals receiving care, have issued a communique calling for urgent redress of the persistent medicine stock-outs that plague Ghana’s health system.

They said the inability of individuals to access essential Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) due to stock-outs in some facilities across the country, did not only jeopardize their health but also posed a significant barrier to achieving the national HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) targets.

The Network and its partners, therefore, urged the Government and relevant stakeholders to prioritise the development and implementation of robust and lasting policies and mechanisms that ensured consistent and uninterrupted access to life-saving HIV and AIDS medicines in all designated healthcare facilities nationwide.

“This includes the meaningful involvement of NAP+Ghana in the planning and strengthening of supply chain management systems, enhancing forecasting and procurement processes, and increasing involvement in local manufacturing capacity,” they said in a communique issued on Friday.

The Communique was signed by the NAP+ President, Ms Elsie Ayeh, and all the 16 regional chairpersons, at the close of a special planned conference by the Ghana Health Service (GHS), as part of activities to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of introducing the Antiretroviral Therapy in Ghana.

It said as stakeholders deeply invested in the well-being of their community, they were committed to working collaboratively with the National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NACP) and other relevant stakeholders, to develop and implement sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV).

The communique suggested that by embarking on community engagement, strengthening peer networks and improving community level healthcare service delivery, the impact of ‘lost to follow-up’ could be mitigated and ensure that every individual living with HIV received the care and support they needed to thrive.

It drew the attention of stakeholders to the importance of engaging NAP+ members at every stage of national deliberations on HIV care delivery and related matters, to enable them to bring their expertise to bear in action that would positively impact their lives.

“We are also aware that some PLHIV solicit funds before medications are administered to clients. These medications are given to us for free, so to turn it into an income generating venture is a crime,” it said.

NAP+ Ghana had zero tolerance for such acts and would take action to cease those acts.

It reiterated the Network’s unwavering commitment to partnering with the Government through the Ghana AIDS Commission, NACP, GHS, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to address the challenges of “lost to follow-up” and medicine stock-outs.

They could do that by working together to build a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive healthcare system that prioritised the needs and rights of all, including PLHIV.

Panelists at the session admitted that in commemorating 20 years of progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS, it was imperative to engage recipients of care (PLHIV) and provide them an opportunity under the auspices of the National AIDS and STI Control Programme, to hear back from them regarding challenges and barriers to linkage and retention in ART services.

The event also seeks to provide firsthand perspectives and strategies by stakeholders towards improving Ghana’s Antiretroviral Therapy programme, towards achieving the 95-95-95 aspirational targets by 2025.

During the session NAP+ members showcased some success stories with the ART since its inception in 2003, while selected partners and the GHS-NACP highlighted new programmes intended to enhance the treatment, care and support for PLHIV.

Ms Ayeh encouraged PLHIV to stop self stigmatisation, embrace their ARTs, observe healthy dietary practices with appropriate exercises and urged those yet to enroll on the life-saving medicines to immediately do so to live normal lives.

Source: GNA

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