First Lady urges support to end mother-to-child HIV transmission

| Updated Aug 26, 2017 at 8:00am



The First Lady Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has called for the full support and participation of men in addressing the problem of mother-to-child HIV transmission as well as breast cancer in Ghana.

Speaking at the launch of the National Acceleration Plan for Pediatric HIV Services at Ho in the Volta Region, Mrs. Akufo-Addo said that though issues of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and breast cancer may focus on women, the involvement, encouragement, support and guidance of men was very important,

She said men were better partners in addressing the issues of HIV and Breast Cancer.

She emphasized that “without full support of men, all the achievements we have chalked so far will be lost” urging that “we need you now more than ever if we are to make greater strides”.

“We as women look to you for encouragement, support and guidance. Without your full support, all the achievements we have chalked so far will be lost. I therefore want to use this opportunity to tell our men that we need you now more than ever if we are to make greater strides,” she said.

She said that, as expressed by the President severally, she believes “health services is a right for all Ghanaians and every Ghanaian must have easy access to it to improve their well-being”

She said as the Premier Ambassador of Ghana for HIV Advocacy, Elimination of Mother to Child HIV Transmission and Keeping Mothers Alive, as well as Empowerment of Young Women and Adolescent Girls, she was passionate about the prevention of mother-to-child transmission and women’s reproductive health.

She also has a passion that drives her to do all she could to better the lives of women and children, being elected as a Steering Committee Member of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA).

Mrs. Akufo-Addo said a 2016 HIV Sentinel Survey Report, had cited the Volta Region and the Brong-Ahafo Region as having the highest HIV prevalence in the country, but sadly, women and children were the most vulnerable groups.

She noted that though Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV services were being provided in more than 2,000 facilities in Ghana to prevent new HIV infections in children, the current mother-to-child transmission of HIV above 10 per cent and below 30 per cent coverage of care for children and adolescents was unacceptable.

She said it was more important “to drive us all to urgently move beyond business as usual, to fast-track the implementation of critical services for our children and adolescents”.

Again, Ghana had adopted four key steps to reduce Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV, which included ensuring that no girl or woman of reproductive age got infected with HIV; and the prevention of unwanted pregnancies in women living with HIV.

The other steps were to ensure the prevention of HIV transmission from mother-to-child during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding, and lastly, to provide on-going support and care to mothers, their children and their families.

“This is why I find it very necessary and timely to launch the National Acceleration Plan for Paediatric HIV Services today. This plan, which has been developed by the Ghana Health Service with support from UNICEF, is to drive us all to urgently move beyond business as usual, to fast-track the implementation of critical services for our children and adolescents,” she noted.

She said breast cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Ghana and that incidence in Ghana, according to GLOBOCAN was 37 in every 100,000 people.

This means that more than 4,000 Ghanaian women would suffer breast cancer each year.

Sadly, over 70 per cent of breast cancer cases in Ghana were diagnosed late, at which time, they could not be cured of the disease, Mrs Akufo-Addo said.

She said early detection of breast and cervical cancer was necessary to prevent avoidable suffering and deaths so it would be good for all women to regularly screen their breast to prevent last detection.

“Let us improve our health by taking simple self-initiated approaches: Know your HIV status, Use condoms correctly and consistently and continue to check your breasts regularly for early detection of breast conditions.”

The First Lady also urged many other institutions in the country to complement the National Health Insurance Authority’s efforts to ensure that comprehensive breast cancer care was available to women.

As part of the launch, the OAFLA Ghana Chapter partnered with the Ghana AIDS Commission, Alere Incorporated and Roche Products Ghana Ltd, to undertake HIV, Breast Cancer and general health screening for the community members.