HIV/AIDS programme launched in Western Region

BY: Samuel K. Obour

Sherry Ayittey, Minister for Health

The West Africa AIDS Foundation (WAAF), a non-governmental organisation, has launched a project in the Western Region to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region.

The Strengthening, Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness (STAR)-Ghana-funded oil and gas project is aimed at addressing the potential negative social impact of oil and gas, with focus on HIV/AIDS in the region.

Five communities in the Sekondi/Takoradi Metropolis and the Ellembelle and Ahanta West districts have been selected for the project.

The project is to allow WAAF to contribute to the efforts of other stakeholders in ensuring that despite the high influx of young migrants, female sex workers and other vulnerable groups in the surrounding communities, the HIV rate does not increase.

Speaking at the meeting on “Social, health and safety implications of the emergence of the oil and gas industry in the Western Region,” the Chief Executive Officer of WAAF, Dr Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye-Donton, said WAAF was contributing towards Ghana being responsive when it came to  health implications of the discovery of any valuable commodity.

She said the project would cater for orphans and vulnerable children, feed and care for pregnant women and mothers with HIV/AIDS, empower and educate vulnerable groups in the target communities.

Also, she said it would conduct HIV/AIDS testing and counselling in the target communities.

Dr Vanderpuye-Donton explained that one of the reasons for the project was that the Western Region would attract young migrants, including commercial sex workers, as a result of the oil find.

The Western Regional Technical Coordinator of the Ghana AIDS Commission Support Unit, Mr Abu Mahama, said the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the region was 1.9 per cent as of 2011.

He said 136,654 people in the Western Region were targeted for testing and counselling but 33,788 people, representing 25 per cent of the target, were reached by September 2012, with 2,047 people testing HIV-positive.

Currently, he said 651 children in the region had been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

The Sekondi/Takoradi Metropolitan Director of Health, Dr T. Avotri, said the metropolis was yet to conduct a survey to determine the true HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the metropolis since the prevalence rate kept fluctuating.

Story: Kwame Asiedu Marfo