Accra, Ghana has handed over the Touch Caravan to Morocco for the MENA Region, as the Global Fund marks its 20th Anniversary. Mrs Cecilia Lodonu Senoo, the Executive Director, Hope for Future Generation, at the handing over ceremony in Accra, said the Global Fund had since 2002, been one of the major financial partnerships globally for HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria in more than 120 countries, investing four billion dollars annually to defeat these diseases.
She said the touch represented the tremendous contributions of the Fund towards health financing, as well as the beacon of light and hope to affected communities of these three diseases while reminding nations of the work that remained undone.
Mrs Senoo who is also the Chairperson of the Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund, said as a major contributor and partner in Ghana’s health sector development and its financial backing for programmes, run by local experts in beneficiary countries, had led to a reduction in the disease burden.
The partnership had saved 44 million lives globally, with over 21.9 million people put on Anti-Retroviral Therapy, 4.7 million people on TB Preventive Therapy, and 428 million mosquito nets distributed across the globe, with the impact of the Fund remaining undefeated.
Mrs Senoo acknowledged the late Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, whose grand dream and commitment led to the establishment of this facility to pull funding from developed nations, to finance these three diseases in developing countries.
She commended all the partners including governments, multilateral agencies, bilateral partners, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and Persons affected by these diseases, who had helped in accomplishing the goals of the Fund for the past 20 years.
Ms Tina Mensah, the Deputy Minister of Health, was full of gratitude and hope, saying, the trajectory of health had completely changed by the influence of the Global Fund, since its absence would have greatly increased the mortality rate of Ghanaians.
She said African health systems have been able to save the lives of millions of its people as the Global Fund continued to partner with governments, the private sector, CSOs, and communities.
“It will interest you to know that the first grant of $7.2 million released by the Fund, was received in Ghana which enabled 2000 Persons living with HIV to receive Anti-Retroviral, and 20,000 persons diagnosed with TB, were enrolled in public and private institutions,” she said.
She said at the last grant, Ghana received $304 million for HIV, TB, and Malaria interventions in facilities and communities in both private and public sectors, and this was aside the $65 million that had been recently allocated for COVID-19 response in Ghana.
“Today, we have received more than $1.2 billion in allocated funding to sustain our health system and ensure the smooth delivery of service and programme implementation for its three diseases.
Ms Mensah, however, warned that HIV was still real in Ghana despite not being a death sentence. The country has a total of 19,000 new infections with 13,000 losing their lives annually, saying, “This should prompt the country to remain vigilant and not be complacent”.
She called for sustained awareness creation especially, among the youth since new infection rates have increased among females, and pledged the continuous partnership of the Government of Ghana with the Global Fund to ensure that money worked to save lives.
Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, the Director of Public Health, Ghana Health Service (GHS), said the country would not have survived without the support from the Global Fund for years, considering its high burden of diseases.
He said current data showed that both adults and children were now living longer due to the great achievement in access to healthcare and services, but indicated that the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to erode the gains made so far.
He commended the Global Fund for its extended assistance to Ghana’s COVID-19 response, which included oxygen and other critical supplies, to save the health system from collapse, contributing greatly to the case management and control of infections.
Dr Asiedu-Bekoe said the gains made in reducing the burden of HIV, TB, and malaria must be sustained through collaborative efforts by all stakeholders in the years ahead and announced that TB treatment was still free for all in Ghana, and that the public must be encouraged to access this facility to help identify the missing cases and save more lives.
Ms Angela Trenton Mbonde, the Country Director, UNAIDS, said Global Fund resource had been used in strategy formulation and planning, ensuring that the vision and direction to end AIDS as a public health threat was based on science, data, and on interventions that would have the most profound impact.
She said the partnership had thought great lessons that a high level of ambition backed by strong political will and courage would succeed, and encouraged the current contributors to continue their generous support, while inviting new members to come on board.
Ms Mbonde said as though the torch was being handed over to Morocco, Ghana must continue to work to reflect the light and hope brought by the Global Fund, ensuring that no one was left behind.
Source: Ghana News Agency