The Vice-President, John Mahama, has said the government will increase its budgetary allocation to support HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care to further push the national prevalence rate down.
Addressing a meeting between the Ghana AIDS, Commission and development partners in Accra yesterday, on the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS for 2011-2015, he said “we should not let our guards down because of the positive gains made.”
Vice-President Mahama said though the challenges of job creation had become the more talked about issue there was the need for increased funding for HIV/AIDS in view of the serious implication it has for the country.
The national prevalence rate, which presently stands at 1.9 per cent, has been on the decrease in the last decade and according to the experts, if attention is given to priorities in the 2011-2015 strategic plan, the prevalence rate is bound to continue on the downward trend.
According to the AIDS Commission, a recent analysis of resources committed to the HIV/AIDS programme, found that funds are expected to flatline around 44.5 million dollars over the next five years.
To ensure efficiency in the programmes and activities of the commission, Vice-President Mahama stressed the need to decentralize the commission’s activities at the regional and district levels, to ensure ownership among the grassroots.
He, however, conceded that before any effective decentralization of the national response could be done at the local level, there would be the need to build capacity at those levels to enable them to effectively take-over some of the responsibilities of the commission.
He urged District Chief Executives to continue to make HIV/AIDS part of their discourse as a way of sustaining the awareness creation campaigns on the pandemic.
The Vice-President said it was important for the commission to receive direct support from development partners to enable it to properly coordinate its monitoring and evaluation programmes.
Expressing the government’s appreciation to the development partners for their continuous support to Ghana in efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS threat, Mr Mahama hoped that meetings between the commission and the development partners would be held regularly.
Dr. Angela El-Adas, Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission said to achieve the goals that the country had established for reducing new infections and increasing care and support, it will be necessary for both to obtain additional resources, and to invest those resources in key interventions.
By doing that, she said the country would take advantage of the opportunity to make the desired progress toward improved health indicators and the Millennium Development Goals.
Dr. El-Adas said Ghana was aiming for a universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and support. “We have also set a target of less than 5 per cent of babies born to HIV-infected mothers,” she added.
Mr. Leopold Zekeng of UNAIDS, who spoke on behalf of the development partners said, “We will work hand in hand with GAC to address resource gaps in the national response”
“Ghana has shown the willingness to do things differently with regards to HIV/AIDS prevention and we the development partners will do everything to support.”
He said UNAID was coming out with a technical support plan which would cover areas including but not limited to human rights and gender, prevention, and empowering young people.