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Health News Tue, 16 Jul 2013

Govt to further reduce the transmission of infectious diseases

Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur on Monday said the Government would reduce further the transmission of infectious diseases, and mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

He said the Government has made progress in implementing policies and practices that have helped slowed the three epidemics, and would further ensure equitable and universal access to essential medicines, commodities and services for improved life expectancy.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur, who was contributing to a panel discussion at the African Union (AU) Special Summit on HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria and Other Infectious Diseases, in Abuja- Nigeria, said Ghana is on track in achieving the Abuja and Millennium Development Goal (MDC) targets.

Tagged Abuja +12, the two-day summit, which began Monday, on the theme: “Ownership, Accountability and Sustainability of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Response in Africa: Past, Present and the Future,” is attracting Heads of State and Governments, Ministers of State, and Health Experts across the African Continent.

The summit comes after twelve years of the Abuja Declaration, in April 2001, at which African Union countries meeting in Abuja- Nigeria, pledged to increase government funding for health to at least 15%, and urged donor countries to scale up support which set targets on the three diseases, and the 2006 summit declarations, to review the level of achievements so far made.

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It’s also to obtain renewed commitment by African Leaders for addressing the diseases and promote the health and well-being of the African.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur said in the three years (2009-2012), Ghana tripled the coverage of anti-retroviral medicines for pregnant women living with HIV, which resulted in a 76 per cent reduction in new HIV infections among children.

The number of tuberculosis cases identified also increased between 2000 and 2012, and the number of cases placed on treatment increased from 57 to 63 per cent, with progressive success in cure rate of 86 per cent.

The vice president said the under-five malaria fatality rate has witnessed a 96 per cent reduction in the period 2003 to 2012.

Malaria related deaths for all ages has also reduced from 6,100 in the year 2000, to 2,815 in 2012, and about 97 per cent of all households own insecticide treated nets.

The vice president announced that a total of GHc150 million has been pledged to the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan for 2011-2015, and there is a complement support from the Global Fund and other Developing Partners.

Government component for TB also covers human resource and existing infrastructure to meet the minimum standards of TB care.

Also, the budget earmarked for malaria control has increased from “almost nothing” before 2005 to around $110 million annually.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur, however, noted that there are gaps in the funding, in the fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria, and that, it cannot be won by individual or isolated efforts, and stressed the need to cooperate by all member states.

“We are at a critical stage where continued funding is uncertain and that calls for domestic and international financing mechanisms towards attaining the MDGs,” the Vice President said.

Source: GNA