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Dec 2, 2014

Ministry of Education Marks World Aids Day


PRESS RELEASE

The Ministry of Education has commemorated this year's World AIDS Day on the theme 'Ghana: Towards an HIV-free generation, through Prevention from Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT), Safe Sex, and Stigma Reduction'.

As part of activities marking the Day, a revised policy on Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) and AIDS for the education sector was launched.

The overarching goal of the policy is to provide broad guidelines for the co-ordination of all HIV and AIDS programmes in order to prevent new infections and mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS on the education sector.

The policy is guided by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the National HIV and AIDS/Sexually-Transmitted Infections (STIs) Policy 2013, Education Strategic Plan (ESP) 2010-2020 and other programmes, policies, international conventions, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) Recommendations concerning HIV and AIDS and the World of Work 2-010 (No 200).

In a key note address at the launch of the policy in Accra, yesterday, the Minister for Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, noted that despite significant progress made worldwide in the reduction of new HIV infections, there was no vaccine or cure for HIV and AIDS, for which reason the pandemic continued to threaten sustainable global development, including progress towards achieving the goal of Education For All (EFA).

Prof. Opoku-Agyeman said halting the spread of HIV was a pre-requisite for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2 and 3 of achieving universal primary education and promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women by the year 2015.

She said HIV prevalence among young people in the 15-24 age brackets had important implications for the education sector and its HIV and AIDS programming.

She, therefore, stressed the need to intensify interventions for an eventual HIV and AIDS-free generation.

Prof. Opoku-Agyeman said with the launch of the revised policy, this year's World AIDS Day marked a new milestone in the fight of the Ministry of Education against HIV and AIDS.

She said the policy aimed at strengthening and deepening the education sector's HIV and AIDS response and to align the response with the policy as well as the sector's STIs policy, which was launched in 2013.

She said the prevention of new infections would remain the key intervention area of the Ministry.

Prof. Opoku-Agyeman said the Ministry, through its decentralized structures, would promote preventive and behavioural change communication programmes, targeting learners and workforce, including persons with special needs.

In addition, she said, the Ministry would create an enabling environment for Persons Living With HIV and AIDS (PLWHAs) who were stigmatized and discriminated against, adding that the key strength of the policy was a section on Governance Procedures and Dispute Resolution that would address issues pertaining to stigma, discrimination and improper disclosure of one's HIV status.

She said another important area of the policy was the collection of strategic information by which, she said, the Education Management Information System of the Ministry would ensure that accurate and timely data were provided on HIV and AIDS for decision-making, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

In a health talk on HIV and Ebola, Mrs. Mercy Acquah-Hayford, Ridge Hospital, Accra, stressed the importance of hand washing with soap and water in the prevention of diseases.

Mrs Acquah-Hayford urged Ghanaians to refrain from eating bush meat because the animals carried the Ebola virus.

She also advised all and sundry to report unexplained skin rashes to the hospital without delay.

In her remarks, the Chairperson for the occasion, Mrs Akua Ofori-Asumadu, ILO, reiterated the need to intensify interventions for an eventual HIV and AIDS-free generation.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)