By: Ewoenam Kpodo | Voltaonlinegh.com |
Heart-Heart Ambassadors have called on health practitioners at the various health centres across the country to be mindful of their critical roles in ensuring the attainment of the 90-90-90 target, the ultimate goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
The Ambassadors observed that 90-90-90, the ambitious treatment target aimed at diagnosing 90 per cent of persons living with HIV, putting 90 per cent of those diagnosed on antiretroviral treatment, and to achieve a viral suppression for 90 per cent of those on treatment by 2020, would amount to naught without inputs from health workers.
This was made known at a forum organised on Wednesday by United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Ghana AIDS Commission at Ho Municipal Hospital.
The forum which formed part of activities to celebrate PEPFAR’s 15 years of saving lives with HIV treatment globally and 10 years in Ghana and also to herald the this year’s World AIDS Day to be observed in Ho, sensitized staff of the hospital on dangers of stigmatization and how it could defeat the purpose of the 90-90-90 agenda.
Rev John Azumah, an Ambassador charged health workers to be professional and not disclose the status of a client to another person without the clients consent.
According to him, he faced stigmatisation from 3 groups of people, first from the health worker who disclosed his status then his senior pastor who made the disclosure before the congregation and then the society joined in.
He spoke of various ways people living with HIV (PLHIV) were discriminated against at health facilities which were supposed to treat them, mentioning, situations where a spot had been reserved at delivery rooms for PLHIV, markings on their folders, health workers passing out information to their colleagues warning them to be cautious of PLHIV at the wards, among others.
Rev Azumah said these acts drove a lot of people to their early graves with some avoiding the treatment and others discouraged from getting tested to know their status.
He therefore appealed to government to incorporate HIV and AIDS education at nursing training and other health-related training institutions so they (health workers) come out well-informed and with a positive attitude towards patients.
Another Ambassador, Ms Gifty Torkonoo encouraged people to be bold and get tested because that was the only way to know one’s status in order to take preventive measures to remain negative or if positive, be on treatment to suppress the virus and live normal lives.
Using herself as an example, she said she would have being a dead person had she not gone for the test and accepted to be on treatment
Administrator of the hospital, Charles Torkonoo assured the team of the hospital’s commitment to work to “end or reduce to the barest minimum” issues of stigmatisation among health providers necessary to attaining the agenda 90-90-90.
He appealed for financial support to construct a proper Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Centre that would run general and ART services to deal with seclusion which is one form of discrimination, disclosing, the current ART Centre is located at an obscure location capable of discouraging PLHIV to visit the Centre for treatment.
US Press Attache, Naomi Mattos who gave a short speech at the meeting, urged all stakeholders to get involved, saying, “we all have to recognise that we’re part of the solution and not become a barrier” to the agenda of ending the AIDS epidemic.
The Word AIDS Day is marked on December 1, every year since 1988. It is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by HIV infection and remembering those who had lost their lives through that.
The global theme for this year’s observance day is “Know your Status” with the national theme being “Test, Treat to Suppress and Stop New Infections”