The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. Government initiative to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world. The program to prevent the spread of AIDS and to support People Living with HIV (PLHIV) has operated in Ghana since 2007. Since the program’s inception, more than $132 million has been invested working with Ghana to address this global challenge. In addition to PEPFAR, the United States remains the world’s greatest investor in the Global Fund. Several agencies and offices comprise the PEPFAR team at the US Embassy Ghana, and we share a bit about them below.
Department of State
The State Department acts as a liaison between the PEPFAR team and the Ghanaian media, coordinating communication and exchanging information. In consolidating and organizing activities of all US Government agencies, the State Department ensures that PEPFAR programs and activities receive broad coverage in the Ghanaian media and are communicated to relevant community organizations. We also are focused giving selected health journalists information on PEPFAR’s work in country and the progress that has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS epidemic. Training them is aimed at equipping them to better understand the HIV/AID menace, the current situation in Ghana, and the existence of PEPFAR and the work that PEPFAR does in partnership with the Government of Ghana.
The State Department also takes the lead on public events such as World AIDS Day, and International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) to help the vulnerable.
By supporting community efforts the Ambassador’s Self-Help Program is designed to increase understanding of the services offered to PLHIV and to reduce stigma.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strengthens Government of Ghana systems, including laboratories and strategic information. The Centers for Disease Control works with Government of Ghana entities/agencies, the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) and the Ghana Health Service to promote, improve, consistently observe and monitor the HIV epidemic and Ghana’s progress in the AIDS response by strengthening both technical and organizational capacity and strategic information activities. Under the laboratory strengthening program, CDC through Ghana Health Service provides cost-effective and quality laboratory practices to promote reliable and accurate test results and to enable international accreditation of medical laboratories. CDC also support the Ghana Health Service to improve the quality of HIV rapid testing through the Dried Tube Specimen Proficiency Testing program.
This program aims at strengthening the capacity of HIV testing sites to ensure that false positive and negative results are reduced if not eliminated. Support is also provided to laboratories through the implementation of electronic laboratory information systems to manage data and improve HIV monitoring. CDC will continue to support GHS to strengthen quality HIV testing and monitoring. During the meningitis outbreak in Ghana, CDC played a key role in both capacity building and provision of equipment and regents to support Ghana Health Service. This means that patients and their caregivers will receive more accurate information to contribute to improved decision-making about their care.
Department of Defense
The Department of Defense HIV AIDS Program (DHAPP) implements military-specific HIV prevention, service delivery, and care and treatment programs. DHAPP’S partnership with the Ghana Armed Forces supports HIV testing, prevention and care services for the military personnel, their families, civilian personnel and civilian residents living near the garrisons. Services are provided through the 37th Military Hospital and Medical Reception Stations available in all garrisons.
In the coming year, DHAPP in partnership with the Ghana Armed Forces HIV and AIDS Control Programme (GAFACP) will pay a lot of attention to reduction of HIV stigma and discrimination within the military. Gender will be integrated in all HIV activities and programs to ensure the right approach is being used for best results. Positive Health and Dignity programing will continue at the 37th military hospital.
Peace Corps (PC) integrates community-based approaches to reach neglected-at-risk and other vulnerable population groups as well as key populations and PLHIV. Peace Corps contributes to the national response to HIV and AIDS in the areas of prevention and care. Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) work at the grassroots level in communities as an effective component of Ghana’s HIV and AIDS response strategy. PC integrates community-based approaches to achieve an AIDS-free generation and will concentrate prevention activities on neglected-at-risk populations such as the hearing-impaired. Peace Corps service to communities is part of its 52-year commitment to the health and welfare of the people of Ghana.
The United States Agency for Development (USAID) supports key population prevention programs and linkages to treatment, care and support. USAID also builds capacity nationwide to manage and implement the HIV/AIDS response, especially quality assurance programs in prevention and care for those programs supported by the Global Fund. Models of Hope, peer counselors will continue to support their peers, accompany newly diagnosed PLHIV to clinics and hospitals, and trace defaulters. USAID’s PEPFAR projects also aim to increase the use of HIV testing and counseling and screening and treatment for other sexually transmitted diseases, both by educating target populations and by improving the quality of services provided in Ghana, so that more people are willing and able to access them.
USAID also works to make sustainable improvements in Ghana’s human resources for health by building the capacity of the University of Ghana and all of Ghana’s public midwifery and nursing schools to address gaps in pre-service curricula and trainer knowledge in order to create a responsive workforce to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment strategies in Ghana. In 2012, over 3151 graduates benefitted from this support.