Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur said Ghana had taken a pioneering role to actualize the African Union (AU) action plan on local production of Antiretroviral Drugs (ARVs) for persons living with HIV and AIDS.
In this regard, Government would continue to provide leadership that would ensure that pharmaceutical companies in the country meet the criteria for obtaining the necessary World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualification to produce ARV locally.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur stated this during the national celebration of the 2013 World AIDS Day in Wa.
He noted that local production of ARVs was the most efficient means to get more people living with HIV on treatment.
In Ghana, the 2013 World AIDS Day is being celebrated under the sub-theme: “Getting to Zero: Accelerating the National HIV Response Towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur stressed Ghana’s continued commitment to protecting the rights of persons living with HIV and ensuring the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in order to guarantee an HIV free generation in Ghana.
According to the Vice President, achieving less than five percent mother to child transmission of HIV by 2015 was the next important goal to be achieved.
The Government would work on closing the resource gap needed to help the country accelerate to zero new infections, zero stigma and discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths by 2015.
He said last year, Government took steps towards addressing the issue of cost as a barrier to accessing HIV treatment services and ultimately help Ghana get to zero AIDS related deaths.
The Ministry of Health was then instructed by Government to scrap the GH₵5.00 service charge paid by people living with HIV for treatment while the Ghana AIDS Commission was also asked to ensure that all persons living with HIV got registered onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Vice President Amissah-Arthur noted that Government could not achieve the goals of the national response to HIV and AIDS alone.
He therefore called on communities, civil society organizations, the private sector, religious leaders and the general public to continue playing their roles as social partners to ensure that every section of the Ghanaian community was reached with HIV and AIDS information and services.
Dr Angela El-Adas, Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission explained that the World AIDS Day was a day set aside to rekindle the awareness of HIV and AIDS, renew their support to those living with and affected by HIV as well as commemorate friends and families who were lost to AIDS.
She said Ghana had chalked a lot of successes in the national response over the past years, saying the general adult prevalence for HIV had dropped by over 60 per cent in 10 years, from 3.6 per cent in 2003 to 1.37 per cent in 2012.
New HIV infections have also dropped from 26,000 per annum to less than 8,000 in 2012 while the number of AIDS related deaths had also declined significantly.
Dr. EL-Adas stated that the country had also reduced by 70 per cent the number of new HIV infections among children due to increased coverage of antiretroviral prophylaxis for pregnant women living with HIV.
She said from 31 per cent in 2009, the proportion of children born with HIV to positive mothers declined to nine per cent in 2012, adding that, Ghana was the only country in West and Central Africa to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV to this level.
Dr Ephraim Avea Nsoh, Upper West Regional Minister said the region was one of the regions with HIV prevalence rate of 1.2 per cent that was lower than that of the national average of 1.37 per cent.
He called for sustained efforts in order to reduce it further as a significant way of contributing to the achievement of the MDGs.
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