Report Documents Role of Education in HIV Prevention Efforts in Ghana
A new publication released Thursday in Ghana documents how the education sector has responded to HIV/AIDS in the country and provides recommendations for future intervention efforts, GNA/My Joy Online reports. According to GNA/My Joy Online, the report aims to identify HIV intervention gaps, recommend strategies to scale up best practices and provide direction for resource mobilization.
For the report, researchers conducted a study on HIV/AIDS interventions in the education sector during November and December 2007, John Anarfi, a professor who contributed to the report, said. The report identified existing prevention methods, determined strategies to provide a more targeted response to the HIV/AIDS and proposed key areas for collaboration among stakeholders. According to the report's findings, the HIV/AIDS program secretariat of Ghana's Ministry of Health mobilized resources and conducted advocacy to address HIV/AIDS in the education sector. However, other partners such as nongovernmental organizations, district assemblies and local communities had minimal involvement, the report said. In addition, the report found that young people had high levels of awareness about HIV; however, it also noted that some knowledge gaps about transmission remain.
The report recommended developing and disseminating additional education materials to young people to promote HIV prevention and combat stigma. In addition, the report suggested that stakeholders form a strategic partnership involving local and national groups to address HIV through the education sector. According to Ato Essuman, chief director of the health ministry, Ghana already has launched an HIV/AIDS Policy Plan and Work Plan for 2006 to 2010 to provide direction and direct implementation for HIV/AIDS education programs. In addition, the Teacher-Agent Dissemination and Change Program aims to provide teachers with information about HIV/AIDS and train them on incorporating these issues into their lessons. Essuman said the independent evaluators have rated the program as successful.
Sakyi Awuku Amoa, director-general of the Ghana AIDS Commission, during the launch of the program discussed the Ministry of Health's HIV/AIDS efforts and commended the ministry for coordinating programs with nongovernmental organizations and schools. According to Amoa, the HIV prevention efforts of the government, civil society and development organizations helped Ghana nearly stabilize its HIV prevalence. Essuman agreed that the spread of HIV was slowing in Ghana, citing findings from a 2007 National Surveillance Report. However, he added that the report also found that HIV prevalence among young people ages 15 to 24 increased from 2.4% in 2006 to 2.6% in 2007. Therefore, Essuman said stakeholders should prioritize, expand and strengthen HIV/AIDS programs targeting young people, particularly through the education sector. He added that the disease poses a serious obstacle to achieving global stability and meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (GNA/My Joy Online, 2/13).