The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, has been welcomed in Ghana by the country’s senior leadership, which has declared that it is ready to step up engagement on HIV. Mr Sidibé met with the Minister of Health and talked about Ghana leading a revitalized AIDS response in western Africa, where progress urgently needs to be scaled up.
Mr Sidibé talked about the need for a people-centred approach and the importance of taking AIDS out of isolation to create more synergies between HIV and cervical cancer, maternal and child health and sexual and reproductive health programmes. He also talked about the vulnerabilities of adolescent girls, with large numbers still becoming infected with HIV, and poor adherence to treatment, which is compounded by a lack of age-appropriate HIV services to respond to their specific needs.
Ghana will assume the chair of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board in 2017. Mr Sidibé congratulated Ghana on taking up this role and invited the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, to be the first head of state to address the board in 2017. Mr Sidibé also encouraged the President to provide leadership to the regional response to HIV.
In his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley A. Botchway, Mr Sidibé stressed the need to discuss the response to HIV as part of the Economic Community of West African States’ agenda, in order to ensure political commitment so that adequate resources are mobilized to end the AIDS epidemic.
Mr Sidibé also had an opportunity to meet with the First Lady of Ghana, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and appointed her the Ambassador for HIV Advocacy in Ghana to Achieve the 90–90–90 Targets by 2020. The First Lady will also use her voice to reduce gender-based violence and increase synergies with cervical cancer and HIV programmes. The First Lady thanked the Executive Director for her appointment and committed to mobilizing all efforts and to supporting the country and the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS to end AIDS by 2030.