World AIDS Day Durbar 2019 – Speech By Mr. Kyeremeh Atuahene, Ag.DG



It gives me great pleasure to address you today as we observe the World AIDS Day. This event marks the 31st anniversary of commemorating World AIDS Day every 1st December since its inception in 1988.

The HIV fraternity in Ghana doesn’t see the commemoration as an annual ritual since on this day we rekindle our commitment to work towards eliminating AIDS by 2030, as we reflect on the impact it has had on the lives of millions of people around the world. This day also gives us the opportunity to assess progress made at managing and controlling the epidemic, acknowledge successes, identify and remove bottlenecks and barriers to services and address programmatic gaps.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
As a country, we have made appreciable progress in the national response. For instance, we have sustained a low HIV prevalence which is currently at 1.7% and have in the last 9 years reduced new infections by 22% according to the 2018 national estimates report. We have also increased access to HIV and AIDS services throughout the country and introduced right policies, strategies and standard models of care to help us accelerate implementation towards achieving the 90-90-90 fast-track targets and eventually achieve epidemic control. I wish to use this occasion to thank the Global Fund and the United States’ President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for keeping faith with government and providing funding and technical support to sustain the HIV and AIDS programme. I also wish to acknowledge the UN Agencies and other development partners for their continued support.

Mr Chairman

Despite the progress we have made, the decline in new HIV infections is not significant enough to bend the epidemic curve especially, as annual AIDS deaths remain too high. This situation is principally because we still have more than 50% of people living with HIV in Ghana who are not on anti-retroviral treatment. The HIV anti-retroviral medicines not only prevent disease progression, but also suppress the viral load to an undetectable level and thereby prevent HIV transmission. Therefore refusal to accept and adhere to anti-retroviral therapy by such a significant proportion of the HIV population is hugely impacting our efforts at achieving the 90-90-90 targets.

As a result, Ghana is one of the countries that is unlikely to achieve 90-90-90 fast track targets by the end of 2020. The Ghana AIDS Commission and its technical agency, the National AIDS and STI Control Programme are determined to change this narrative by ensuring that standard models of care are used across all health facilities and expand prevention, treatment and care services at an unprecedented speed in 2020.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

It is for this reason that the theme for this occasion, Communities make the difference-Help end AIDS is most appropriate.  We have the tools, technology, right strategies and human resource capacity to achieve the 90-90-90 targets, eliminate AIDS and achieve epidemic control. What we don’t seem to have currently is active social mobilization and community participation. We need every community to rise to the occasion and make a difference as we did before the beginning of this decade. We need all communities including professional bodies, religious bodies, traditional authorities, NGOs, the private sector, public sector, women and youth groups and every identifiable group to partner the Ghana AIDS Commission to mobilise people to test for HIV and support those who test positive to access and adhere to anti-retroviral therapy.

I would like to make special appeal to the church because they are in a unique position to help achieve the 90-90-90 targets. Indeed Christians are the majority population in the country and statistics show that 80% of all persons living with HIV in Ghana is a church goer. Therefore, the AIDS Commission seeks to strengthen its partnership with the church and encourages the Church to use its pulpit to mobilise its members to test for HIV and support those who test positive to access and adhere to anti-retroviral therapy.

We also want to acknowledge our hard working health care workers and remind them that they are the drivers of our journey to the 90-90-90 targets. We wish to remind them that this journey has been too slow and encourage them to shift the gear into acceleration mode in order to take us to our destination on time.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

The HIV and AIDS epidemic is not just a health issue but also has socio-economic dimensions. For example, the estimated average productivity lost to HIV-related ill-health is about 5 days per month. This is a huge loss to Ghana’s economy when we recognize that nearly 170,000 adults living with HIV are not on anti-retroviral therapy. If this trend is allowed to continue, we definitely cannot achieve the President’s vision of Ghana beyond Aid.

Consequently, we must see HIV prevention, treatment and care services as an investment and work towards a country in which health propels sustainable development. A country in which all of us enjoy the health we deserve. Our vision is to leave no one behind and so will make HIV prevention, treatment and care services easily accessible for ALL; poor and rich, able and disabled, old and young, urban and rural, citizen and foreigner. Let’s not forget that access to health is a fundamental human right and a means to economic prosperity.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

I leave you with a famous African proverb: When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion. That’s to say, we must unite to tie up the lion of HIV that breeds suffering, inequality and poverty on our people. We must unite to tie up the lion and work together to achieve the 90-90-90 targets and HIV and AIDS epidemic control.

Thank you


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The Ghana AIDS Commission is a supra-ministerial and multi-sectoral body established under the Chairmanship of H. E. the President of the Republic of Ghana by Act 2016, Act 938 of Parliament. The objective of the Commission is to formulate policy on the HIV and AIDS epidemic and...

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