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VEEP inaugurates AIDS Commission Board

BY: Chris Nunoo
Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (arrowed), with board members of Ghana AIDS Commission at the Jubilee House. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (arrowed), with board members of Ghana AIDS Commission at the Jubilee House. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO

The newly constituted 19-member Governing Board of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) was on Thursday, March 9,2022, sworn in at a ceremony at the Jubilee House in Accra.

The board, which has the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, as Chairman, includes the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu; the Caretaker Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Cecilia Dapaah; the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Dan Botwe; the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye; the Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah; the Government Statistician, Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim, and the Director-General of the GAC, Mr Kyereme Atuahene.

The rest are the President of the Ghana HIV and AIDS Network, Mr Victor Attah Ntumi; the President of the Network of Association of Persons Living with HIV, Mrs Elsie Cornelia Arkoful-Ayeh; two Members of Parliament, Mr Patrick Boakye Yiadom and Dr Sebastian Sandaare; a Christian group representative, Rev. Dr Cyril Kwao Fayorse, and a Federation of Muslim and Ahmadiyya Mission representative, Alhaji Mohammed Baba Shaibu.

The board also has a representative from the National House of Chiefs, Pimampim Yaw Kagbrese V; Mrs Lucy Brimpong Ofori-Ayeh and Prof. Kwesi Torpey as nominees of the President; a representative of the Ghana Employers Association, Mrs Victoria Hajar, and a representative of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Franklin Owusu Ansah.

Domestic resources

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who led the members to swear the official oath and the oath of secrecy, assured them of the full commitment of the government to increase domestic resources to meet the demands of the sector through the National HIV and AIDS Fund.

That fund, he explained, would not only ensure adequate domestic resources for the HIV and AIDS response but also make the national response financially self-reliant on a sustainable basis.

Since the Ghana AIDS Commission Act 2016 (Act 938) did not provide any dedicated sources of revenue for the fund, Dr Bawumia said, the previous governing board identified additional sources of funds that could ensure a continuous inflow of revenue into the fund.

He said the governing board was of the conviction that HIV financing should be a shared responsibility and, therefore, industries whose activities created conditions for the spread of HIV should share the burden of funding.

The Vice-President, therefore, urged the newly constituted board to work with the Minister of Finance to prepare and submit the necessary documentation for the consideration of the Cabinet.

Progress

Dr Bawumia said the country had made tremendous progress in the fight against HIV since 2017, with new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths falling by 14 and 19 per cent, respectively, between 2016 and 2020.

That, he explained, was the direct result of scaling up testing and anti-retroviral treatment services using differentiated service delivery models throughout the country.

Again, he said, within the same period, the uptake of HIV testing increased by 80 per cent, while the number of HIV-positive pregnant mothers receiving anti-retroviral therapy to prevent mother-to-child transmission also increased by 159 per cent.

“Similarly, the number of persons living with HIV and receiving anti-retroviral therapy increased by nearly 100 per cent during the same period. These positive developments place us in a much stronger position to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of ending AIDS by 2030,” he stated.

He urged the newly appointed members of the board to use their experience and technical expertise to halt the unfortunate development by strengthening the “Back to Care Campaign” which the GAC had embarked on.

COVID-19 & AIDS

Touching on the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Bawumia said the national HIV and AIDS programme had shown remarkable resilience in the face of the pandemic in the last two years.

He observed that COVID-19 disrupted HIV testing, prevention and treatment services in the country and continued to pose a significant threat to persons living with HIV, as it was common knowledge now that HIV infection could lead to severe COVID-19 or even death.

Optimism

The Chairman of the GAC Governing Board gave an assurance that the board would succeed.