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

By
Lydia Asamoah, GNA

Accra, Aug 25, GNA – 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.

GNA

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