“Between 2010 and 2013, we no longer have 30 per cent of babies born with HIV, now we have nine per cent acquiring the infection from their mothers,” she told the Daily Graphic at a hand-over ceremony for the outgoing board of the Society of AIDS in Africa (SAA), a civil society organisation that rallies leaders across the continent to combat HIV and AIDS.
The story of SAA
Towards the end of the 20th century, HIV and AIDS epidemic established itself as the most devastating epidemic, defying the most aggressive scientific battles to combat it. With over 30 million people infected and an estimated 10 million people dead, the epidemic metamorphosed from a public health problem into an overall development challenge undermining African renaissance.
The Society for AIDS in Africa was founded in 1989 at the fourth International Symposium on AIDS and Associated Cancers in Africa (now ICASA) held in Marseille, France, by a group of African scientists, activists and advocates in response to the epidemic.
Ghana’s estimated national HIV prevalence as of 2012 is 1.37 per cent and an estimated 235,982 persons made up of 27,734 Children (11.8 per cent) are living with HIV and AIDS in Ghana.
Dr El-Adas said although the trend was reducing, it did not give cause to relax in the efforts to wipe out the disease from Ghana and other parts of the world.
“It is perceived that a lot of progress has been made in the global response and therefore, stakeholders are losing interest to focus on other things but we are not in the safety zone yet.”
“In Africa, most especially in sub-Saharan Africa, if we allow our attention to move away from HIV and AIDS, we would probably see a re-bound and that would not be good for people in our part of the world,” she said.
Speaking at the ceremony earlier, the GAC boss commended the leadership of the SAA for rallying African leaders to provide resources to combat the disease.
The outgone President of the SAA, Prof. Robert Soudre, while commending members of the society for their commitment to duty, also urged the leaders to extend the same loyalty to the new administration.
The new President of the society, Dr Ihab Ahmed, commended the outgone administration for promoting a culture of transparency.
He said the SAA would focus, among other things, on capacity building, raising awareness and fighting stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.
He said the society would also ensure that countries achieved the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and reach the three zeros objective – zero new deaths, zero new infections and zero discrimination.
Dr Ahmed said the society’s new direction would also include getting closer to persons living with the disease in order to work with them to fight it.
Currently, the Governing Council of the SAA is made up of Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Gabon and Nigeria.