Ayisi-Addo, the Programme Manager for the National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NACP), in a group photograph at the launch of Challenge Facility
Dr Stephen Ayisi-Addo, Programme Manager, National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NACP), has called for country-wide community initiatives and partnerships, to end Tuberculosis (TB).
This he said, would help in finding the missing TB cases within communities across the country, to close the present gap in treatment, preventing related deaths especially, among Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Ghana.
Dr Ayisi-Addo made the call when he launched the Challenge Facility for Civil Society Round 10 (CFCS R10) Project on the theme: “Promoting stigma reduction and TPT scale up through Advocacy and Stakeholder Engagement”.
The R10 Project, which is being spearheaded by the National TB Voice Network, (TBVN), is the Stop TB Partnership grant mechanism for TB-affected communities and Civil Society Organisation (CSOs), to transform the TB response, so that it become rights-based, gender-transformative, people-centered and accountable.
He said Ghana’s annual target for Tuberculosis (TB) Preventive Therapy (TPT) for 2022, was approximately 56,000, because in the previous year, the country was able to reach just 19,000 representing about 79 per cent of the 24,000 people who were eligible for TPT.
However, there were currently about 346,000 Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) in the country, with approximately 245,000 on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART), but the people who were eligible for TPT, are those who had been tested for TB and are negative, he said.
“So to a very large extent, almost all the people who are living with HIV are eligible, as only a few of them may be identified as positive, but when you have a certain target, you have to be realistic, it has to be linked with availability of commodities all of which, is taken into consideration before arriving at the 2022 target,” he added
Dr Ayisi-Addo, stressed that if Ghana was able to deliver that, and TPT was also given to other populations like women and children who were exposed to TB clients, then the global targets would be achieved.
He said Ghana has signed on to the UN High Level targets for eliminating TB by 2030 and was working towards achieving the set objectives, therefore the NACP, NTP, were jointly working with partners, Community-Based Organisations like the Stop TB Partnership and all other partners in HIV, to be able to achieve that target.
Mr Isaac Alfred Tsiboe, the Chief of Party, KEBA Africa and TBVN, said the project, would engage key stakeholders to ensure full implementation of the TPT plan, increase awareness, improve knowledge on uptake to create demand among key population.
It would further mobilise and empower communities in the calls to action, to ensure government TPT commitments were met, and also operationalise the stigma index action plan to overcome barriers to services and eliminate human rights violations.
He said the project would be implemented in two regions: Greater Accra (Greater Accra Regional Hospital-Ridge, Achimota Hospital, and the Princess Marie Louie Hospital); and in the Eastern Region (Eastern Regional Hospital, Atua Government Hospital and St. Martin Depores Hospital), targeting PLHIV, Contacts of TB Index cases, Children under five years, and other key populations.
Mr Jerry Amoah-Larbi, the National Coordinator, TBVN, encouraged the media to intensify their support through awareness creation and education on the disease, and further urged government to invest into the research of developing a new TB vaccine that would have a longer lifespan than the current one.
Dr Yaw Adusi-Poku, the Programme Manager, National TB Programme (NTP), said the team would liaise with the COVID-19 contact tracing team to reach out to TB patients in all communities and ensure strict adherence to treatment regimen to prevent drug resistance.
He however said the challenge was funding to facilitate such community visits in order to reach persons in their homes and called for all hands on deck for TB and HIV, urging stakeholders including policy makers to maximize their support to achieve the set targets.
The internal partners of the project were National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), National TB Programme (NTP), National Association of Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (NAP+ Ghana, WAPCAS and CHAG, while the external partners include the AURUM Institute Ghana and the STOP TB Partnership Ghana among other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Media, he said.