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General News of Monday, 30 March 2009

Source: GNA

160,000 children made orphans through HIV/AIDS

Kintampo(BAR), March 30, GNA - Available statistics collated by Ghana AIDS Commission indicate that about 160,000 children have been made orphans through HIV/AIDS in the country.

Dr Damien Punguyire, Medical Superintendent of Kintampo Municipal Hospital who announced this said about 17,000 children less than 15 years of age were living with the pandemic, whilst 60 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 years were also infected by the end of 2007.

He was addressing students and staff of Kintampo Rural Health Training School at the 40th Health Week celebration of the school's Students Representative Council (SRC) at the weekend Speaking on the theme, "HIV/AIDS: Its Effects on Women and Children," Dr Punguyire noted that without much care, more people would be infected by the pandemic and more children made orphans within the next five years.

He expressed concern about the prevalence rate of the pandemic among the youth and reproductive age group that when not effectively controlled would adversely affect the economy and national development.

"There is the need for increased education to create more awareness for the people to become cautious about their sexual practices and that would help minimise spread of the pandemic," Dr Punguyire said. He called on teachers to educate and teach HIV/AIDS prevention methods in schools to keep students aware of the pandemic and appealed to people to stop stigmatising victims since it increased the spread. Dr E.T. Adjase, Director of the School, commended past and continuing students and the academic staff for their immense contribution towards the school's growth for the past 40 years.

He expressed appreciation for the efforts of the SRC in initiating some development projects to complement efforts of the management. Dr Adjase announced that management would begin a specialist programme in partnership with Hampshire (NHS) Trust in the United Kingdom to train medical assistants and psychiatrists. Mr Evans Kyere Appiah, out-going President of SRC commended the cordial relationship between the management, academic staff and the student body, which had contributed effectively to the development of the school.

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