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Regional News of Wednesday, 30 July 2003

Source: GNA

UN Goodwill Ambassador interacts with AIDS orphans

Accra, July 29, GNA - Ms. Misako Konno, a well-known Japanese actress and a United Nations (UN) Global Goodwill Ambassador on Tuesday urged community leaders to come together to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic affecting people in their areas.

" Although I do not have expertise on HIV/AIDS, I strongly feel that I can do something in the fight against the disease" Ms. Konno said this, when she visited the Manya Krobo Queenmothers Secretariat (MKQS), an AIDS Resource centre taking care of children who have lost both parents as result of HIV/AIDS at Krobo Odumase in the Eastern Region.

The centre, which was established in 1988 has a total of 585 orphans brought in from both Upper and Lower Manya Krobo Traditional areas.

She said her mission was to mobilise the people to become involved in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which is having devastating effects on developing nations.

"I would send this message all over the world about what I have seen, heard and learnt of the effort the Queenmothers are putting in to help the orphans of this area".

Ms. Konno also appealed to the government and International donor organisations to provide anti-retroviral drugs to HIV/AIDS patients at affordable prices.

" Giving rice may be humanitarian support but teaching people how to grow rice is the essence of development assistance" In her address, Madam Esther Kpabitey (Manye Nartekie), Project Co-ordinator of the centre noted that the aim for setting up the centre was to guide the orphans against stigmatisation and other social handicaps.

She said instead of keeping these unfortunate children in orphanages, the queenmothers volunteered to assume all the rights of custody, education and maintenance of the orphans. She said the 586 orphans identified in Lower Manya are under the care of the Queenmothers and the Ghana Aids Commission and other NGO's are caring the remaining orphans.

Madam kpabitey said through their hard work and efforts, the prevalence rate of the disease in the area has been drastically reduced.