22 February 2013

Ghana: Support Chiefs to Help Fight HIV/Aids

The Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional Area, Bonaba Baba Salifu Atamale Leyarum, has called on the Ghana Aids Commission to relate more with traditional rulers and chiefs to enable them support in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country.

He said though chiefs had an interest in HIV/AIDS education, they had no funds to embark on vigorous educational drives to help fight the disease.

He observed that HIV/AIDS was of concern to everyone, including chiefs, but regretted that the chief were not much concerned in the educational drive of the disease, because they were not so much involved.

He stated the since their subjects respect and listen to them very well, if they were fully roped in, their contribution to the fight against the disease would go far.

Naba Leyarum was speaking in an exclusive interview with The Chronicle on the sidelines of a workshop that brought together relevant HIV/AIDS stakeholders to provide inputs to guide the revision of the revised national HIV/AIDS and STI Policy in Bolgatanga, on Wednesday.

He said a committee on HIV and reproductive health issues was formed in 2010 by the chiefs at the national level, at which he represents the Upper East Region. Since its formation, only one meeting has been held.

They provided a budget that would have supported them to perform, but unfortunately, the budget was not approved.

According to him, if the committee was revived and the necessary funding provided, the committee could link up with the various regional houses of chiefs, who would, in turn, link up with their respective traditional areas and the chiefs to draw up programmes, whereby chiefs from one traditional area could go to another traditional area to meet with the committee members and their people on the need to stop stigmatisation and discrimination.

This way, people would realise the importance their leaders attached to the disease, and the care and concern they show those living with it.

The workshop brought together traditional rulers, health professionals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and a team of doctors and consultants from the Ghana Aids Commission, who were there to undertake a regional dissemination to receive inputs from regional and district stakeholders on the National HIV & AIDS, STI Policy, which was recently validated.

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