Zero Discrimination Day commemorated: CHRAJ calls for end to stigmatisation
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has called on stakeholders to work to ensure the eradication of stigma and discrimination in all forms while promoting social inclusion and tolerance.
For instance, it said the government must put additional measures in place to encourage citizens to live in harmony and peace with one another.
The commission made the call in a statement to commemorate this year’s UN Zero Discrimination Day in Accra yesterday.
Signed by the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal, the statement said: “On this day, the commission reiterates that stigma and discrimination of any kind are not only unlawful and violations of the rights of affected persons, but the practices are also counterproductive”.
Originally established by UNAIDS in December 2013, the day was in furtherance of ending human rights abuse of people who were being stigmatised and discriminated against globally on the basis of their HIV/AIDS status.
It had the objective to end stigma and unfair treatment towards people living with HIV/AIDS.
The UN promoted the cause by encouraging stakeholders to undertake various commemorative events and also design campaigns that celebrated the human life and freedom of people to live in honour and dignity irrespective of their HIV status.
The international community first observed the day on March 1, 2014.
The statement said approximately 346,120 people were living with HIV/AIDS in the country, made up of 66 per cent females and 34 per cent males.
According to the Ghana Aids Commission, 71 per cent of people living with HIV knew their status, while 99 per cent of the people with recorded HIV infection received sustained anti-retroviral therapy (ART), with only 79 per cent of that population showing viral suppression.
It, therefore, said that the country had, thus, missed out on the UNAIDS’ ambitious target code of 90-90-90, which aimed to ensure that 90 per cent of all people living with HIV knew their status, while 90 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV would receive ART, and 90 per cent of all people receiving ART having viral suppression by 2020.
According to CHRAJ, stigma and discrimination remained the most insidious challenges to the management of HIV/AIDS in the country, a situation which discouraged many people from seeking counselling and testing services.
“Hence, they resort to keeping to themselves rather than integrating with people and the community. These discriminatory tendencies lead to disadvantages that limit their participation in the community, decrease in social interactions and create economic difficulties due to limited ability to secure and maintain jobs,” it added.
CHRAJ further said that the laws of the country protected individuals against discrimination.
“Also, the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), together with other institutions, has over the years mounted various activities to protect persons living with HIV who are experiencing stigma and discrimination, yet the practice persists.
“More needs to be done by the government through its agencies such as the GAC, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) and other relevant stakeholders to address the phenomenon.
“Every person has the right to live in dignity regardless of their HIV status,” it added.