Ghana makes impressive strides in HIV national response
Ghana has made impressive strides in HIV national response and has managed to reduce by 76 per cent the number of new infections in children, according to the UNAIDS global report.
This has been attributed to the enhanced coverage of anti-retroviral medicines for pregnant women living with HIV, Mrs. Angela E-Adas, Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission disclosed this at the launch of world AIDS day in Accra.
The day was also used to launch First Lady Lordina Mahama’s Advocacy Campaign as premier’s ambassador in Ghana for the Global Plan towards elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV among Children by 2015 and keeping mothers alive.
It was on the theme getting to zero: accelerating the national response towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS).
World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.
In Ghana the day would be celebrated on December 2, in Wa in the Upper West Region.
Dr. El-Adas said the 2012 Sentinel Surveillance report shows a reduction in national adult HIV prevalence from a high of 3.6 in 2003 to 1.37 per cent in 2012.
Prevalence among sex workers had also reduced from 35 per cent in 2006 through 25 in 2009 to 11 per cent in 2012, while that of the youth aged 15-24 had declined appreciable to from 1.7 per cent to 1.3 per cent over last year: indicating that Ghana indeed was experiencing a reduction in new infections.
“These achievements stem from shared priorities and committed leadership in all sectors and at all levels of partnership and we simply cannot rest on our oars if we are to attain the MDGs by 2015”, she said.
These notwithstanding, the issue of stigma and discrimination continues to be a problem but Dr Al-Adas said national effort to address stigma against key population will help in accelerating the national response towards the attainment of the MDGs.
First Lady lordina Mahama called on all stakeholders including government, development partners, chiefs and opinion leaders, women and men, civil society, religious groups, persons infected and affected with HIV, and the media to intensify efforts to achieve the MDG target.
She said, it was for the same reason that the launch of the 2013 World AIDS Day was being undertaken simultaneously with the national launch of her advocacy campaign to “ eliminate MTCT of HIV and also to keep their mothers alive.
“We will continue to intensify advocacy, mobilize resources and establish strategic partnership in order to achieve a generation free from HIV and keep our mothers alive” she said
“As Ghana’s Premier Ambassador my role ties in seemingly with the mission of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA) and our mission is to HIV high on the continental agenda”.
The Ghana chapter of OAFLA aims to improve maternal health, reduce child morality and promote reduction of new HIV infections and new infections and also empower women to take charge of their reproductive health needs.
“We can only do this with the involvement of men as well as creating awareness, providing prevention education as well as screening, outreaching with emphasis on HIV testing, breast cancer among others.
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women in Ghana and other developing countries she said and added that it could be prevented by early detection
“Thankfully, Ghana has been mentioned as one of the few countries in the world that has achieved a high coverage of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. We are proud to have achieved a 76% reduction in new HIV infection among children”
She commended health workers in the country and encouraged them to apply strategies that would support women of reproductive age to access the reproductive health services facilities.
There were solidarity messages from the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, Madam Pat Alsup, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy and Mr. Girmay Haile, UNAIDS Country Coordinator.