Let’s scale up national response to these diseases

BY: Daily Graphic
Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu
Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu

In the year 2000, HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria devastated the populations of many countries. HIV was unstoppable, leaving in its wake countless orphans and shattered communities.

Malaria killed young children and pregnant women, while TB afflicted the poor.

The world needed to respond, and a partnership of governments, the private sector, civil society and people affected by the diseases led to the establishment of the Global Fund in 2002 to accelerate the end of AIDS, TB and malaria as epidemics.

The Global Fund pooled the world’s resources to invest strategically in programmes to end AIDS, TB and malaria as epidemics and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programmes run by local experts in countries and communities most in need.

Working with countries, the Global Fund has saved millions of lives and provided prevention, treatment and care services for hundreds of millions of people, helping to strengthen local health systems and improve economies.

It is worrying to hear that the allocation to Ghana towards the elimination of HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria has reduced from US$250 million in the 2015-17 implementation period to US$194 million for the next three years.

The reduction has been partly linked to the country's performance in tackling those diseases, which has been described as “not being at the top”.

 This is unfortunate, because the reduction comes at a time when our intervention services are still not reaching the marginalised and under-privileged in some parts of the country.

The Daily Graphic is saddened that at a time when TB cases are said to be on the rise, resources required to successfully scale-up the response are dwindling.

It may be encouraging that the country has made modest gains in malaria control and  HIV prevention, but the truth is that as a country we should improve upon our performance or simply put up our game.

We need to take this seriously to avoid the threat of further reduction in allocation by 2021, as the allocation from the Global Fund is key to improving healthcare delivery.

Our service providers have to revise their strategies to remove barriers to effective delivery of services to vulnerable populations.

The Global Fund plays a critically important role and it is imperative that funding is invested for maximum impact — supporting the implementation of programmes in the most effective way possible.

Perhaps Ghana should also begin to look at mobilising domestic resources to sustain the impactful programmes targeting the three diseases over the long term.

This way, we can build strong systems for health which are essential if we are to make progress against HIV, TB and malaria.

The Daily Graphic calls on the Minister of Health and the Ghana Health Service to step up the national response to the control of the diseases by mobilising local and international resources to end the scourge associated with these diseases.