UN says Ghana’s mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention services coverage too low

UNAIDS Boss Michel Sidibé (left) met with the Ghana's President John Evans Atta Mills February 24 in Accra. © UNAIDS

The United Nations has raised concerns about the low services coverage offered in Ghana to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child.

Ghana’s coverage is said to be hovering around 51%.

During a recent meeting held with Ghana’s President John Atta-Mills, the Executive Director of the UNAIDS, a Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Mr Michel Sidibé expressed his concern over the low coverage (51%) of services to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child (PMTCT).

According to a feature story published by the UNAIDS February 24, 2012 on its website, Mr Michel Sidibé said “that it is ethically unacceptable for any child to be born with HIV.”

He emphasized the economic rationale for expanding the PMTCT services – that is preventing HIV is far less costly than life-long treatment.

Mr Sidibé therefore urged President Mills to champion the UNAIDS vision of “Zero new HIV infections among children” across the country.

“No baby born with HIV by the year 2015—this can be your legacy for Ghana,” he said, adding that keeping their mothers alive is equally imperative.

The UNAIDS Boss also called for greater local production of HIV medicines in Ghana and other African countries.

“African countries must catalyse the local production of high-quality medicines,” said Mr Sidibé.

He adds “Ghana can develop centres of excellence and lead the way in an effective continental response to HIV.”

President Mills said he looked forward to the day when Ghana was able to manufacture HIV medicines for its population at large and neighboring countries in the region. “This will a major boost for us,” he said.

Mr Sidibé commended Ghana for the dramatic increase in national spending on AIDS, from a less than $1 million contribution last year 2011 to a $100 million pledge over the next five-year period.

By Ekow Quandzie

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