First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo says Ghana has adopted the task shifting and differentiated service delivery with an aim at widening access to HIV and AIDS services.
She said that task was expected to help improve the health and development outcomes, whilst ensuring that children were born free, and stay free of HIV infection.
This she said was crucial “if we are to build on our theme for last year, ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend of Africa’ to quicken the pace of Development”, she told her counterparts first ladies in a meeting in New York.
Speaking in New York at a programme organised by the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA), Mrs Akufo-Addo said “The elimination of Mother-To-Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV is an important first step in ensuring an HIV-free generation. This can be achieved through making sure that all expectant mothers have access to professional healthcare and regular antenatal care”.
The OAFLA meeting held on the side-line of the 73rd UN General Assembly discussed the “Free to Shine” campaign, which was launched in January this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The programme brought together development agencies, foundation partners and the private sector, with an aim to network with the first ladies for future support and programmes.
Mrs Akufo-Addo urged her counterparts to replicate her shining example of building health facilities that would provide primary health care in underserved communities, saying, such facilities she said may lead to ensuring all expectant mothers to have access to professional care and counselling, and have financial support for caesarean delivery where necessary.
She added that improving adherence to anti-retroviral therapy among HIV positive mothers, though a difficult task, was still necessary as it would help with the elimination of MTCT.
The First Lady said “finding ways to sustain adherence to anti-retroviral therapy may be complex and may require a multi-disciplinary effort of health and social workers as well as trusted and dedicated family members to achieve the desired results”.
She called for support for the ‘Heart to Heart’ ambassadors in Ghana who move around to educate their peers on HIV and AIDS, saying, there was the need to sustain the efforts of the ambassadors, to improve Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) adherence among pregnant women and reduce HIV-related stigma.
Mr Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, commended the first ladies for their commitment to improving the lot of women, children and adolescent girls.
“AIDS is not over. It is the last mile, and the last mile is not easy. We need to be strong and ensure that this partnership with the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS is the one to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Your efforts will be critical to whatever we will be able to achieve,” he said.