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Health News Sat, 21 Feb 2009

Extend NHIS to cover anti-retroviral drugs - NGO

Tamale, Feb. 21, GNA - Alhaji Muhammed Abdul-Samed Gunu, Executive Director of Kuga-fung Mansongsem Community Association, (KMCA), a Tamale based NGO, has appealed to management of the NHIS to extend the scheme to cover Persons Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Alhaji Gunu made the appeal in Tamale on Friday when he presented food items and some used clothing, to persons living with the disease to improve their nutritional status.

KMCA is a local NGO working to promote the interest of vulnerable persons in the community, particularly persons living with HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. Alhaji Gunu said the poverty that engulfed parts of the country called for measures to extend the National Health Insurance Scheme to cover the anti-retroviral drugs to ensure the affordability of the drugs.

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He said subsidizing the drug was not enough since a great number of the persons living with the disease were not employed and could not afford to purchase the subsidized drug. He announced that due to the vulnerability of persons living with the disease in the Northern Region, KMCA had sourced funds from UK, which would be used to assist the PLWHA to enable them to buy the anti-retroviral drugs. He said the NGO had the financial assistance from "Access 4 UK", a UK based NGO, and paid the first bill for the PLWHA at the cost of GH¢200 and that the NGO would continue paying their bills as and when necessary.

Alhaji Gunu said the NGO decided to pay their bills because of the increased poverty levels among persons living with the disease particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa. He said KMCA would select three PLWHAM who are not on the anti-retroviral drugs and send them to Kumasi for local treatment, to know how effective the medication would be on pilot basis. He said if the treatment is effective the NGO would continue paying the bills involved. He advised the public to be more cautious of their sex live to reduce the spread of the disease. Mr Sulemana Sule, Vice President of Network for PLWHA, who received the items, commended the NGO for the kind gesture and appealed for more assistance to ensure that they were integrated into the society. 21 Feb. 09

Source: GNA