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General News of Thursday, 31 July 2003

Source: GNA

Gov't urged to make HIV/AIDS anti-retroviral drugs available

...and affordable...

Tema, July 31, GNA - Mr. John Kitcher, Deputy Registrar of Co-operative Societies on Tuesday appealed to the government to make anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS available and affordable on the market to enable victims to prolong their lifespan.

He said although it had been made clear that the dreadful Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) had no cure and that victims would die within a short period, the drugs would help prolong their lives. Mr. Kitcher was presenting a paper on the "Roles and challenges of co-operatives in the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS" at a day's workshop at Tema on the theme: "Co-operatives - Effective tools against HIV/AIDS."

The workshop was organised by three Tema based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) - Youth Aid Ghana, Abibimman Foundation and Women Entrepreneurs Guarantee Fund Limited (WEGFL), to mark the International Day of Co-operatives.

He said since the youth formed the bulk of the membership of co-operative societies there was the need to create awareness among them about the pandemic and sensitise them on the disastrous consequences of getting infected with the disease as it would lead to incapacitation, resulting in low productivity and reduced incomes.

Mr. Kitcher urged members of the societies to undergo voluntary tests to know their status so that they could take appropriate steps to avoid contracting it or infecting others, if found to be positive. He said, this called for the intensification of education on the pandemic to create the awareness and stressed on incorporating HIV/AIDS issues in their training programmes to enable members to appreciate the extent devastation caused by the menace.

Speaking on the topic; "Financing small-scale business - the micro finance concept," Mrs. Esther Agbodo Nyamalor, Executive Director of Youth Aid Ghana, an NGO called on the government to provide the enabling environment for more institutions to embrace the concept and to reach out to the rural areas to provide financial assistance to the grassroots societies to embark on income generating ventures.

Mrs. Nyamalor, who is also the Executive Director of WEGFL, said for the country to develop, there was the need to pay attention to the current financial constraints that the rural dwellers were facing, adding that there was no clear-cut national policy on micro financing. In a welcoming address, Mr. Kwabena Ofosuhene Okai, Executive Officer of the Abibimman Foundation urged the government to consider reducing charges on goods and services to make them attractive and accessible to the public.