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General News of Tuesday, 30 September 2003

Source: GNA

Adopt gender policy on HIV/AIDS - Govt urged

Accra, Sept. 30, GNA - The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)- Ghana on Tuesday called on the government to immediately adopt Gender HIV/AIDS and the National Blood Transfusion policies in fulfilment of its constitutional and international obligations. FIDA-Ghana said though such policies have been drafted for a long time now, their adoption by the government had delayed making it difficult to promote such programmes and carry out educational campaigns on them.

"Though these policies have been in draft for a while, government has adopted none of them. The gender policy has been in draft since 1999, and the HIV/AIDS policy since 2000".

Speaking at a press conference, which coincided with the official opening of the new offices of the organisation in Accra, Mrs Chris Dadzie, President, FIDA-Ghana, said lack of such policies had resulted in the lack of a uniform evaluation and monitoring tool for programmes being implemented by a plethora of organizations and inefficient usage of resources.

The new FIDA-Ghana Office, located at 4th Crescent Link, Asylum Down, in Accra is a two-storey building with more than 10 rooms, an outhouse, and a conference room.

It was refurbished with funds provided under the National Governance Programme (NGP) through the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Mrs Dadzie said without a legal backing for such drafted policies like that on gender, women and children would continue to face a higher risk of domestic violence, adding, "women and children who have undergone rape and defilement are even more vulnerable to HIV infection".

She said the lack of a national blood transfusion policy has resulted in blood service providers like the Korle-Bu Blood Bank the inability to monitor the private health sector and enforce the screening of equipment procured by health facilities to achieve reasonable level of accuracy.

She said a workplace HIV/AIDS policy would also help define an organisation's position and practice for reducing transmission of the disease and for handling its infections among employees.

She explained that the adoption of a national blood policy would ensure that there was adherence to blood safety recommendations and standard operating procedures, while that on a gender policy would decrease gender discrimination, and improve gender equity in Ghana. Mrs Leonora Kyeremanten, Programme Coordinator of the NGP, commended FIDA for its efforts in achieving such 'a big and comfortable office to accommodate its clients and the already trampled upon women, who used to form long meandering queues outside the old FIDA Offices. She said FIDA in its 25 years of operations in Ghana has been consistent and unrelenting in its gender empowerment endeavours but it was regretful that, its operation essentially remained an urban phenomenon.

She announced that, the NGP was, therefore, in the process of negotiating with some of its development partners to retool FIDA's Kumasi Office and relocate it to Northern Region.

"We are also seeking opportunities for the expansion of your mobile legal aid services to the districts".

Mrs Kyeremanten said the NGP was also working closely with FIDA to investigate the possibilities of expanding its activities to include micro financing since FIDA had a direct access and networks to a large number of women.

Mr Franklin Asamoah-Mensah, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP, said because of the immense contribution FIDA-Ghana was offering to society, it had been chosen among 16 agencies to receive institutional support from UNDP.

He said among other things, UNDP had through the NGP assisted FIDA to draw up a 10-year strategic plan to give it a more strategic orientation to enable it to meet the current challenges of good governance.

He said in strengthening FIDA, a legal resource and documentation centre would be set up to enable it to perform better and render more efficient services to women and children.

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