Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
On the MDG 6 target of combating HIV/AIDS, evidence shows that after a decline from a high of 3.2 per cent in 2006 to a low of 2.2 per cent in 2008, HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Ghana increased to 2.9 per cent in 2009 and dropped to 2.0 per cent in 2010. A policy action particularly in the area of educational campaign and other HIV/AIDS programmes is required to promote significant behavioural change to sustain the decline. According to the Ghana Aids Commission, the current fluctuation in the prevalence rate between 2003 and 2010 signals only a levelling effect or stabilization of the epidemic.
What contributed to the progress?
Various bodies and institutions in the country and elsewhere have supported the government’s fight against HIV/AIDS pandemic in Ghana. These include the Global Fund (to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), multilateral partners such as the World Bank and other bilateral partners, NGOs and CSOs. Practicing safe sex, especially among the most vulnerable, reducing mother-to-child transmission, promoting voluntary counselling and testing, and increasing use of Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWAs) are some of the measures being undertaken by all stakeholders to reduce the spread of the disease.
As part of measures to control malaria and to ensure that a greater number of households do not only own Insecticide treated nets (ITNs), but also use them, a multi-interventional strategy has been developed by the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to help in controlling malaria. Among such measures are the NMCP/GHS decisions to modify the distribution strategy and adopt a campaign style dubbed “Door-to-Door Distribution and Hang Up.” With the support of other partners and stakeholders, this innovative approach was initially implemented in the Northern Region targeting households with children under five years and pregnant women.
There are a number of challenges facing the achievement of MDG 6, especially HIV/AIDS and malaria but the key ones include:
• High level of stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, coupled with misconceptions about the disease;
• High levels of sero-discordance and consensual unions or marriages;
• The lack of efficient monitoring and accountability on spending on HIV/AIDS-related programmes;
• The absence of a vibrant unit under the Ghana AIDS Commission to coordinate national response;
• Gender issues are vital in tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic especially in cases where women are powerless in relation to their counterparts due to poor economic empowerment and negative social norms which subject them to the will of their partners;
• Limited access to insecticide treated nets;
• Limited finance to scale-up malaria control programmes;
• The lack of proper waste disposal system in the country and poor drainage systems in the cities coupled with poor sanitation habits by many city dwellers.