9 August 2006

Ghana: The Private Sector Health Programme And HIV/Aids Victims


THE NATIONAL AIDS Control Programme (NACP) has called for active involvement of all Ghanaians to ensure that the success achieved over the past few years in reducing HIV infections in the country is maintained.

It is gratifying to note that the Programme, through various efforts, has helped reduced the menace of the pandemic.

Currently, HIV prevalence in the country has fallen from 3.6% in 2003 to 3.1% in 2004 and 2.7% in 2005, and this has been through the relentless efforts of various agencies and individuals including the Ghana AIDS Commission, the AIDS Control Programme of the Ghana Health Service, the country's health development partners, non-governmental organisations and civil society.

However, we should rather be cautioning against complacency and calling for intensified efforts to curb the pandemic. And this is where Ghanaians should assist the government in its crusade to fight the disease.

Government has on several occasions asked for active and productive collaboration between the public and the private sectors in meeting the needs of the country. It is therefore a welcome decision of the Family Health International's to partner with government and franchise private health facilities to provide state of the art treatment and care for patients living with HIV/AIDS.

This paper believes that providing care for people living with HIV/AIDS is a pivotal strategy in managing the HIV/AIDS pandemic. However, there are very few private health care facilities with the ability, knowledge, or personnel to carry out this activity, leaving the public sector heavily burdened.

But certain private and reputable medical centres in the country have come out to close the gap affecting the private sector in this area. The Holy Trinity Health Centre, the Nyaho Medical Centre and the Akai House Clinic have however shown that centres of excellence in the private sector can equally serve the needs of the general public provided the public sector engages them appropriately.

These centres have huge responsibilities of providing comprehensive care for HIV/AIDS patients who call on their facilities. The decision of these three health centres to serve people living with HIV/AIDS will take some of the load off the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

Now that the private sector has ventured into providing care for those with the disease, we should bear in mind the availability of the anti-retroviral medicines for these unfortunate people.

We should realise that the provision of anti-retroviral therapy to those living with HIV/AIDS is no easy task. It involves a complex series of activities ranging from determining the need as well as developing practical solutions to meet that need.

According to statistics, Ghana has over 500,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. We need to ensure that they get access to the treatments they need and adhere to the treatment. The sorry aspect is that the National Insurance Health Scheme does not cater for anti-retrovirals, but government has put in place essential and efficient mechanisms to provide these medicines to all who need it.

Noting that 60% of all medical care is provided in the private sector, this sector should be encouraged and assisted to adequately provide these medicines to people living with HIV/AIDS. It is the hope of this paper that all those interested in improving HIV/AIDS care and public health, will collaborate with these private sector health centres to improve the health status of Ghanaians.

Let us therefore reach out with this unique public private partnership in the interest of all and sundry, especially those currently living with HIV/AIDS.

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