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General News Wed, 31 Dec 2003

Adopt sale strategies to boost condom usage

Ho, Dec. 31, GNA - Mr Edwin Darkey, Volta Regional Population Officer, on Tuesday expressed the urgent need to adopt more subtle sale strategies to boost condom usage to check the spread of HIV/AIDS and population growth in the country.

He suggested to Parliament to pass a law to make it obligatory for hotel operators to ensure that all hotel rooms were visibly stocked with condoms and to also ensure that the facility was made available on table tops at vantage points and in drinking bars.

Mr Darkey was speaking to the Ghana News Agency during a get-together hosted by the National Population Council (NPC) for a cross-section of media practitioners in Ho as a goodwill gesture and also to brief the personnel of the efforts the Council was making to address population issues in the region.

He urged the media to help remove the wrong perception among some people that HIV/AIDS was contracted through sexual promiscuity alone and said, "Good Samaritans rendering humanitarian service and others by the nature of their work could be exposed to risks of contracting the disease adding "We are all at risk".

Mr Darkey expressed regret that HIV/AIDS was spreading at an alarming rate despite continued efforts been made to fight the disease. He called on the government to provide more logistics to the NPC to enable coordinate the activities of non-governmental organisations and government agencies on population issues.

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Mr Darkey said a country's development was determined by how efficient population policies were implemented.

He lamented that the Volta Regional Population Secretariat had only two professionals and three ancillary staff to co-ordinate activities of all the 12 districts and agencies in the region.

Mr Darkey said teenage pregnancy remained a very big problem for development planners in the region but could not immediately give figures to support his claim.

He asked media personnel to disseminate population issues and hinted that in the coming year Journalists would be taken on some of the outreach trips to the districts.

Mr Darkey commended the UNFPA for providing funds for population related programmes in the region without which not much would have been achieved in the sector.

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Mr George Agbotse, Deputy Regional Population Officer said the Volta Region Secretariat will undertake a programme next year to encourage the inclusion of population variables in development planning in all districts of the Volta Region.

He said it is crucial that population issues are consciously reflected in all levels of planning including the districts so as to capture the essential population issues that needed to be addressed.

The journalists urged senior public and civil servants to inform the public on factors militating against their efficient service delivery through the media.

They contended that more often when the media managed to expose bad situations, which were being prevented from coming into the public domain, things got done to the relief of the very Officers who kept tight lips over such situations.

The journalists were optimistic that if the Freedom of Information Bill was passed into law it would assist in removing fear that compelled public officials from being unnecessarily over-cautious not to displease their superiors by talking to the public.

Source: GNA