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According to the report published by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Ghana was among seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have achieved this remarkable feat of reducing the HIV infections among children.
Ghana was ahead of South Africa in reducing the infections, according to the report.
“With a 76% decline since 2009, Ghana showed the greatest decline in the rate of new infections among children,” the report said, adding that the country has doubled the number of children accessing treatment from 2009 to 2012.
The other six African nations were Botswana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.
“…seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa—Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia—have reduced new HIV infections among children by 50% since 2009,” UNAIDS said citing the report which was on the Global Plan towards elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive (Global Plan).
South Africa showed a 63% decline (24 000 fewer new HIV infections in 2012 than in 2009), the report indicated.
The report noted that Tanzania and Zimbabwe are also making substantial progress.
The UNAIDS highlighted that there were 130,000 fewer new HIV infections among children across the 21 Global Plan priority countries in Africa––a drop of 38% since 2009.
“The progress in the majority of countries is a strong signal that with focused efforts every child can be born free from HIV,” said Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director.
Mr Sidibé, however observed that progress in some countries with high numbers of new infections has stalled.
The report shows that access to treatment remains unacceptably low for children and that “only three in ten children in need of treatment have access in most of the ‘Global Plan’ priority countries.”
“We need to find out why and remove the bottlenecks which are preventing scale-up,” the UNAIDS boss said.
However, the pace of HIV infection decline in some of the 21- African Global Plan priority countries is said to be slow and in Angola, the report says “new HIV infections have even increased”.
For Nigeria which has the largest number of children acquiring HIV (nearly 60 000 new HIV infections among children in 2012), the report said the numbers remain largely unchanged since 2009.
“Without urgent action in Nigeria”, it said “the global target for 2015 may not be reached”.
The Global Plan towards elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive is an initiative spearheaded by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United States Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which was unveiled in June 2011 at the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS.
The Plan has two main targets for 2015 – a 90% reduction in the number of children newly infected with HIV and a 50% reduction in the number of AIDS-related maternal deaths.
By Ekow Quandzie