National HIV/ AIDS Strategic Plan Policy launched

By Christabel Addo – GNA

Accra, Sept. 15,
GNA – The Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has launched its new five-year National
HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP) for 2016 to 2020, and a “Treat All” Policy to
provide guidance for the national HIV and AIDS response.

The new Plan is
anchored within the overall vision of the national HIV response which is aimed
at eliminating HIV and AIDS in Ghana.

It also subscribes
to the 90-90-90 fast-track targets which ensure that by 2020, 90 per cent of
all people living with HIV would know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all
people with diagnosed HIV infection would receive sustained antiretroviral
therapy, and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy would
have viral suppression.

It outlines
strategies aimed at achieving the reduction of new infections by 80 per cent
from an estimated 12,803 in 2015 to 2,560 in 2020, the reduction in
AIDS-related deaths by 80 per cent from an estimated 12,646 deaths in 2015 to
2,530 in 2020 and strengthening of health and community systems.

The NSP focuses on
high-impact HIV prevention, treatment, care and support activities and the
critical social and pragmatic enablers of the national HIV programme and
leverages the investment thinking approach to detail the country’s commitment
to invest for results.

Mr Alex Segbefia,
the Minister of Health, in an address, acknowledged the GAC and its partners
for their concerted efforts which have culminated in the development of the new
NSP 2016-2020, which represents Government’s commitment to accelerate the country’s
efforts towards ending AIDS by 2030.

He said the NSP was
aligned to the National Development Agenda, the Ghana Shared Growth Development
Agenda 2014-2017, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which
builds on the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals, and
provide an ambitious and far-reaching development agenda for the period 2016 to
2030.

He said it was the
firm commitment of Government to provide the necessary programmes and funding
to ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being of all Ghanaians, and it was
also expected that although there would be new cases of HIV, the virus would no
longer be a public health danger.

Dr Pat Youri, the
Lead Consultant to the NSP, presenting highlights of the Plan, said the Plan
provides evidence-based and results-oriented strategies with HIV-related
activities in key development sectors that have the greatest potential to
optimise the national HIV response.

He said these
objectives would be realised through a combination of behaviour change
interventions targeting the general population, young people (15-24 years) and
key populations, prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) and
treatment and care for HIV and AIDS.

He also said it
would cost a total of $494,645,660 which was almost half a billion dollars to
fully implement the NSP, however there was a current total resource gap of
105,423,859, which represent 21.3 per cent of the resource needed.

Dr Youri said the
gap was so significant and must be closed to help in achieving the objectives
of reducing both new infections and AIDS related deaths by 80 per cent
respectively.

Consequently the,
AIDS investment framework has enabled the identification of some critical
components of the plan which include, high-impact direct HIV activities,
critical social and pragmatic enablers and synergies with HIV related
activities in key development sectors, he said.

However, “we will
harness the use of improved health systems and community health systems such as
the Community Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS), to maximise access to
quality health care”, he said.       

Dr Angela El-Adas,
the Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, explained how an End Term
Evaluation (ETE) was conducted to identify gaps and impact made in the national
HIV response over the past five years, and the findings have been used to
inform the development of the new Strategic Plan for the period 2016-2020.

She said over the
last two decades, the national response to HIV and AIDS has been guided by
three strategic plans which involves the National HIV and AIDS Strategic
Frameworks I and II for the years 2001 to 2005 and 2006 to 2010 respectively,
and the recently ended Plan for the year 2011 to 2015.

She said the
current Plan marks the fourth generation guiding document for Ghana’s HIV
response, and was developed through a consultative process with key
stakeholders at the national and decentralised levels.

According to her it
would not only provide the strategic blueprint for the national response to HIV
for the next five years, but would also be a platform for the country to launch
the “Treat All” Policy, which would see to testing and treating at least 90 per
cent of people living with HIV by 2020.

Dr El-Adas said
previously, Ghana adopted the World Health Organisation guidelines where only
Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) with a CD4 count of 500 or lower were put on
treatment, but with the “Treat All” policy, every person who tests HIV positive
would be put on treatment.

It would help us in
fast-tracking the national HIV response towards improving quality and coverage
and scaling-up of targeted services over the next five years as the country
aims to meet the global objective of ending AIDS by 2030, she said.

GNA

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