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International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Advisory Board meeting opens
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The third annual Global Health Council Board meeting has opened in Accra with a call for improvement of the health status of people to help stop the spread of diseases.

Dr Leo Zekeng, Country Coordinator of UNAIDS, stressed the need for a correlation between AIDS and tuberculosis and other diseases to keep the people safe.

He said stigma about AIDS remained a challenge to health workers and communities and this needed to be tackled to stop the epidemic from going out of hand.

The meeting was organised by Afro Global Alliance in partnership with the Global Health Council, facilitators of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial program’s Board.

The program, which started in 1983, is led by about 1,000 organisations in over 100 countries with the aim of remembering the lost, supporting people living with AIDS and to move communities to lend their support to achieve success.

Dr Zekeng said the involvement of communities in AIDS health education was vital by ensuring their commitment and mobilisation so as not only to bring the stigma and discrimination under control but also to create awareness.

He said it was necessary that countries become cautious of churning out figures of decline in AIDS cases but should continue with public education and to be more accountable with resources to get the needed impact of containing the virus.

Chief Austin Arinze Obiefuna, Country National Coordinator of the program, said the Candlelight Memorial was an opportunity to educate the people about AIDS, create community dialogue and influence local and national policy-makers about its prevention, care and treatment.

He said it was also an opportunity for coordinators to improve their community mobilisation skills, partner with like-minded groups and professionals to find unity within a global coalition of AIDS activists.

Chief Austin Obiefuna said through the active involvement of civil society organisations in Ghana, many communities had participated in the campaign and are well committed and on course in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

He said there was the need to set in motion strong advocacy at all levels, especially within the communities, and to let the people recognise that their health constituted their wealth and that every successful endeavour hinged on good health.

Mr Maxwell Addo, Director of Finance, Ghana AIDS Commission, said the meeting was timely since it was closer to December when the World AIDS Day is observed globally.

He said it was appropriate that the meeting would be discussing crucial issues and strategies for 2010, finalise plans for certificate in community mobilization, candlelight Advocacy plans and preparing of media outreach programmes.

The meeting brought together members of the International Advisory Board, Global Health Council, WHO, UNAIDS, Ghana AIDS Commission as well as Coalition of NGO’s in Health.


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