November 27, 2003

By Bicycle, Ghana Groups Raise Awareness for World AIDS Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Lisa Peterson, 212-629-8001, lpeterson@itdp.org

The Ghana AIDS Commission, in cooperation with UNAIDS, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and the Republic of Ghana’s Ministry of Health, has launched a campaign to raise public awareness about AIDS through bicycle rides.  Two rides, one through all of Ghana’s 11 regions and one through Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Ghana, will culminate in a December 1 ceremony publicizing this year’s World AIDS Day theme, “Live and Let Live: Reducing Stigmatization & Discrimination against People Living with HIV/AIDS.”

All of the riders are traveling on bicycles donated by ITDP, an international NGO, based in New York, which is dedicated to sustainable and equitable transportation.  ITDP is working in Ghana, Senegal and South Africa to mobilize health care workers with bicycles.  The pilot project is part of a five-year program funded by the United States Agency for International Development and several private foundations.

“Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to adequately caring for AIDS-inflicted patients in Africa,” said Paul Steely White, ITDP Africa Regional Director.  “With a bicycle, health care workers are reaching double or even triple the number of patients they did while walking.  For the cost of one motorcycle or truck, outreach organizations can invest in bicycles and serve many more patients.”

At a November 5 event, Ghana Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama lit a torch that will be carried by bicycle on a relay ride across each of Ghana’s 11 regions over the next month.  From the capitol, Accra, in the south, cyclists will carry the torch as well as this year’s message of tolerance through the country, arriving in the port city of Takoradi for World AIDS Day.

Meeting the Ghana AIDS Commission rider will be Shisu Yakubu, an AIDS advocate who is traveling from Nigeria to Ghana on the ECOWAS AIDS Ride, sponsored by ITDP, USAID, “Shopafrik.biz” and the Red Cross, Ghana.  His month-long journey, begun on November 1 in Nigeria’s capital of Lagos, will bring him through Benin and Togo before he arrives in Ghana on November 28.

“I am embarking on this tour to create awareness and enable humanity to know and appreciate the nature and devastating effects of HIV/AIDS,” said Mr. Yakubu.  “‘In unity lies strength,’ so the old adage goes.  I would therefore earnestly appeal to our leaders and people living in West Africa to unite to fight against the stigma attached to the disease.”

Ghana President H.E. John A. Kufour will greet both riders during Ghana’s World AIDS Day event on December 1.  There, the President will receive 10 new bicycles from ITDP, to be donated to AIDS outreach workers chosen by the Ghana AIDS Commission.

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