On Thursday 28th September, 2017, a delegation from the Ugandan AIDS Commission paid a courtesy call on the Eastern Regional Minister, Hon. Kwakye Darfour. The Ugandan delegation comprised of Dr. Nelson Nosoba of the Uganda AIDS Commission, Ms. Sharon Kwagala from the Ministry of Local Government, Mr Steven Pande from the Ministry of Health, and Ms. Shamim Nanteza from the the Ministry of Finance. The Ugandan delegation was accompanied by staff of the Ghana AIDS Commission National AIDS Spending Assessment (NASA) team namely, Mr. Jacob Sackey, Director of Finance, Mr. Maxwell Nkrumah-Buadi, Internal Auditor, and Mr. Daniel Kpogo, Accounts Officer. Also in attendance were the members of the Regional AIDS Committee, the Technical Support Unit, and Staff of the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC).
The Hon. Regional Minister welcomed the delegation to the Regional Coordinating Council, and the Eastern Region. He expressed his gratitude to the Ghana AIDS Commission for selecting the Eastern Region for their visit. Highlighting the purpose of the learning visit, Mr. Jacob Sackey indicated that the Ugandan delegation was to learn how resources for HIV and AIDS were received, utilised and reported in the region which had led to the successful production of several NASA instruments over the past decade. He also added that the team will be conducting a bench-marking survey of the Ghana NASA.
Hon. Kwakye Daffour, in his welcome remarks indicated that the Eastern region had chalked numerous successes, such as a decline in HIV prevalence from 3.7% in 2014 to 2.6% in 2016 and this is as a result of a collaborative, and proactive approach at the decentralised level. He further highlighted that many innovations, and best practices which have culminated into national success emanated from the Eastern Region. He also informed the delegation of the strides that the region had made in the area of HIV Testing Services, as part of efforts to achieve the 90-90-90 UNAIDS Fast track targets. He said the TSU had been using event and location-based approaches to provide free screening during major festivals and social gatherings, and those who are HIV positive are linked to treatment, care and support services. He however, stated that stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV, and Mother-To-Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV were still a challenge to the response to HIV.
Ms. Golda Asante, the Technical Coordinator of the Technical Support Unit (TSU) presented on how HIV funds are received, utilised and reported. She highlighted the role of the TSU in the decentralised response to HIV. Talking about the sources of funds for HIV and AIDS activities in the region; Ms. Asante mentioned Government of Ghana, International Donor Agencies, and Private sector organisation. Ms. Asante also indicated that the funds received at the decentralised level covered three major thematic areas namely, Prevention, Care and Treatment; and Programme management. She added that all implementing partners were to adhere to guidelines, and also report quarterly on how the funds were used.
The head of the Ugandan delegation expressed his appreciation to the Hon. Regional Minister, and all the key stakeholders present, and was hopeful that the learning visit would be the first among many other visits, and knowledge sharing between Ghana and Uganda.