Accra, Dec. 05, GNA - It is World AIDS Day.
Defying the blistering heat from a furious morning sun, scores of people file
into Agbogbloshie market, where Accra Brewery Limited (ABL) and a team of
health professionals from the Accra Regional Hospital and the Malaria
Foundation had pitched tents to educate patrons on HIV and AIDS, as well as
offer free screenings for HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
Esther, a 57 year old resident of Agbogbloshie, has attended the screening for four consecutive years. She notes that being cash strapped, the screening is her only way of knowing and tracking the state of her health. Filled with gratitude, Esther invokes divine blessings upon ABL
‘Whenever I hear that ABL is organising this programme, I brave the odds to participate as my absence and its resulting consequences on my health is not an option I want to toy with,’ Esther says.
Esther is not the only one; other beneficiaries share similar sentiments towards ABL and its annual health outreach at Agbogbloshie on World AIDS Day.
Thirty-nine year old Timothy, also a resident of Agbogbloshie, says ‘ABL’s programme helps us. It helps us know the state of our health. When I heard they were coming, I gave up on going to work. I thank ABL for this event, and pray they continue supporting the community’.
Perhaps most profound was Victoria’s story. Victoria, a trader, resides at Accra New Town, but found her way to the programme when she heard about it. She says, ‘the programme helps us a lot because we are unable to find time for ourselves and our health because of our work. However, programmes like this motivate us. Some people have not stepped inside a hospital for years so this (the programme) can help them improve their lives’.
ABL’s Strive for a Healthier World: Through the Looking Glass
World AIDS Day, first commemorated in 1988, is intended to unite different backgrounds in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Overtime, December 1, the United Nations’ designated date for observing ‘World AIDS Day’, has handed stakeholders an opportunity to reflect on the strides, strains and patterns in HIV and AIDS education and prevention.
ABL joined the fight against HIV/AIDS in 2007. But in the course of a decade, the Day has become much more than a fight against HIV and AIDS. Although we have consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the fight, we have expanded the concept to encompass attention to the most pressing health need of the residents in our target communities at the time.
Beside, the annual ritual of using World AIDS Day to screen and educate people about the virus, our people-centred approach to dealing with the health needs of our stakeholders has become a staple in the communities we reach, and indispensable to the people who benefit from it.
This is our legacy; one rooted in our Dream of bringing people together for a better world and evidenced by our investment in creating a Healthier World. To achieve this, we assess and fashion out health outreach programmes around the prevailing health risk of the time. For instance, at the peak of the dreadful Ebola outbreak in the sub-region in 2014, we used the occasion of World AIDS Day to educate patrons on the virus. Consistent with this responsive approach, and in marking the 2015 World AIDS Day event, we screened participants for Malaria and Hepatitis B, diseases which had become topical and pressing at the time.
This responsive approach to dealing with our stakeholders’ health needs has also found expression in our annual health screening exercise in Adabraka, organised in collaboration with the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), and our Alcohol and Pregnancy programmes, run in partnership with major hospitals across the country to fight Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, health defects that adversely impairs the development of the growing foetus.
Millions die from various diseases every year. While Hepatitis B claims over hundreds of thousands of lives annually, HIV/AIDS, diarrhoeal diseases such as Cholera and Ebola, and Malaria rank consistently as causes of most of this country’s death toll.
For us at ABL, World AIDS Day reminds us of our onus as a corporate entity whose reason-for-being is validated by the community it serves, to go beyond the call of duty.
We have sensitised an appreciable number of people on the phenomenon of HIV/AIDS and in the process, demystified and razed down the strongholds of stigma that petrify people into learning their HIV status.
But we have also done more than is rudimentarily required by offering free health care for the marginalised on various afflictions, to the point where our health programmes have become viable alternatives for the hard-up.
We make a real difference in the communities we serve; this is our legacy!