The First Lady, Mrs. Lordina Mahama, last Saturday advocated sufficient and sustainable resources towards the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and improve the reproductive health of women against cervical and breast cancers.
She promised to use her position as a premier ambassador of the UNAIDS Global Plan on Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMCT) and a member of the Organisation of African First ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA), to reinforce policies and programmes against HIV and AIDS through advocacy, resource mobilisation and improve the wellbeing of women and vulnerable.
Against this background, she said, the Ghana Chapter of OAFLA, in collaboration with Ghana AIDS Commission and other partners had embarked on advocacy to support government’s efforts to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Mrs Mahama was speaking at the National launch of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV at a durbar in Shama in the Western Region.
She said Ghana had achieved a lot of successes in its fight against HIV with more than 1,600 sentinel sites being established across the country providing PMCT services, including counseling of pregnant women with HIV and testing.
The First lady indicated that PMCT had been integrated into sexual and reproductive health services, which made it easy for would-be mothers to access healthcare services.
She noted that despite these successes, there were a number of challenges militating against the programme including certain traditions that disempower women from taking personal decisions on their health, as well as discrimination and stigmatisation against HIV positive women.
She said the programme had yielded positive outcomes at Eastern and Brong Ahafo regions with more than 3000 people being screened for cervical cancer and 82 abnormal cases being registered. Seven of the cases are receiving treatment.
“I am happy to note that Ghana has intensified its prevention of cervical cancer by also introducing the use of prevention vaccines in some districts. As these pilot vaccines are evaluated and become more widely available, they will serve as useful instruments to prevent needless deaths of our women “she said.
She asked women to take regular breast self-examination and protect themselves by regularly undertaking pap-smear tests.
The First lady expressed commitment to campaigning to improve the health status of Ghanaians to attain of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
The Acting Paramount Chief of Shama, Nana Akosua Gyamfiaba, said the district health system offer PMCT with about 50 mothers benefiting from the service.
She noted that malaria had been the major cause of deaths and mostly reported at the Out Patients Department (OPD) whilst diarrhoeal diseases and upper respiratory tract infections are also prevalent in the area.
She said the good news was that 95 per cent of OPD attendants were insured under the National Health Insurance Scheme which has significantly improved the health status of the populace.
The Queen mother said although Shama had a health centre that provided various health services to the people, she appealed to the government to provide the area with a district hospital in view of the increasing population.