The Ghana Aids Commission (GAC) has observed with concern that Sexual and Gender- Based Violence (SGBV), Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, And Harassment (SEAH), and inadequate funding for HIV/AIDS- related interventions remain impediments to ending the menace by 2030.
It said the challenges including Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) inhibited the provision of full-scale essential HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services needed to achieve the Agenda 2030 target of ending HIV/AIDS despite the scientific tools and proven strategies available to end AIDS within this decade.
Kyeremeh Atuahene, Director General of GAC, said this in Wa in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Derick Oppong- Agyare, Deputy Director of Programmes at the GAC, at a capacity building workshop on strengthening community systems for protection from PSEAH, SGBV, and IPV for selected Antenatal Care (ANC) in-charges and mentor-mothers in the Upper West Region.
It was organised by the GAC in partnership with the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) to empower the participants with the requisite information and skills to enable them to create awareness, prevent, support, and refer SEAH, SGBV and HIV/Tuberculosis (TB) cases to the appropriate quarters for redress.
Atuahene said high-risk sexual behaviour including SGBV and IPV had become increasingly pervasive in the Ghanaian society with disregard to HIV prevention protocols, which had contributed to high number of new HIV infections
averaging 21,000 annually over the last five years.
He said SGBV was not only de-humanizing but constituted a grave violation of the fundamental human rights and freedoms of its survivors, especially women, and girls.
He stressed the need for concerted and accelerated action by stakeholders to empower women and girls as a measure to help reduce their vulnerabilities.
"Of uttermost concern is the fact that new infections continue to occur in high numbers among our adolescent girls and young women, who, according to national data, accounted for nearly a quarter of total new infections that occurred in 2021
"As you perform your professional duties, which are essential for reducing new HIV/TB infections and improving treatment adherence, you should also make it your key objective to prevent SEAH, SGBV, and IPV, and support victims to mitigate the effects on their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing", he said.
Mr Atuahene also entreated the nurses to facilitate access to complementary services such as social protection, mental health, and justice for survivors of SGBV.
Madam Charity Batuure, the Upper West Regional Director of the Department of Gender, encouraged the participants to recognize and react appropriately to the emotional needs of survivors of SGBV with genuine sensitivity and compassion.
She also appealed to the participants and members of the public not to be quick to pass judgment and pointing accusing fingers against victims of SGBV but to assist them to seek services.
Mr Abu Dokuwie Alhassan, Executive Director, Capacity Enhancement and Community Support (CAPECS), who presented on "Screening for SGBV/IPV among patients", encouraged nurses at the ANC to screen their clients and offer them the needed assistance when necessary since they were the most vulnerable group in society.
The participants were also taken through the GAC Act, 2016 (Act 938) and the rights of PLHIV; key concepts of SGBV/IPV; assessment of support services as a survivor of SGBV/IPV; psychosocial dilemma affecting PLHIV and TB patients; managing post-traumatic stress disorder affecting survivors of SGBV/IPV among others.