Alhaji Baba Jamal, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, on Tuesday, lauded the gains made in the country in the reduction of HIV and /AIDS prevalence. The rate dropped from 3.6 percent in 2003 to 1.3 percent in 2013.
He noted that with such feat, Ghana could envisage the attainment of the set target where AIDS would no longer be counted among Ghanaians.
Alhaji Jamal said this during the celebration of the World AIDS Day, which was organised by the Local Government and Rural Development Ministry for its staff and agencies.
The theme for this year’s celebration was: “Getting to Zero. Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS Related Deaths.”
He called on Ghanaians not to relax due to the appreciable drop in the HIV prevalence but work extra hard to ensure that the disease is totally eliminated.
“In many countries where the pandemic is severe, it is still eroding decades of developmental gains, undermining economies, threatening security and destabilising societies,” he added.
Alhaji Jamal said research had shown that in extreme cases, HIV and AIDS infection among staff have had major negative impacts on the internal environment of businesses and organisations.
“Internally, it is manifested in increased labour costs due to illness, absenteeism, bereavement, leave of absent, medical expenses, labour turnover and reduced productivity, breakdown in worker morale among others.”
He said even though, the prevalence rate had been kept within reasonable bounds over the past few years, the workforce continues to be the most affected by the pandemic.
“HIV is no respecter of persons and can affect all workers no matter their grade or class and indeed, the employees at the Ministry and its Departments could be at risk in view of the fact that majority of employees within the Government system fall within the active reproductive age of 20 to 49,” he added. Mrs Magdalene Kannae, Focal Person on HIV and AIDS at the Institute of Local Government Studies, lauded the celebration of World AIDS Day as it provided the opportunity each year for people worldwide to unite and show solidarity in the face of HIV pandemic.
“It is also a time to show support to those living with HIV and AIDS and also to raise public awareness about the current status of the pandemic and encourage treatment, prevention, care and research agenda around the world,” she added.
She called for an end to the stigmatisation of those who had contracted HIV, especially at the workplace.
The occasion was also used to educate the staff on the causes, prevention and care for HIV and AIDS patients by medical officers from 37 Military Hospital.