Ghana’s first lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has called for an accelerated intervention to help prevent mother to child HIV/AIDS transmission in the country.
Transmission of the deadly disease from pregnant women especially teenagers to their children is on the rise and in need of capable plans to curb it. With teenage pregnancy also increasing alarmingly, it makes the fight against the menace even more complicated.
Research indicates that a lot of teenagers infected with the diseases do not take their ART drugs as prescribed. Hence leaving their innocent unborn children to be infected with the virus.
Delivering a keynote address at ‘The HIV Treatment, Pathogenesis, and Prevention Research in Resource-Limited Settings Conference (popularly known as the INTEREST Conference) in Accra at the Kempinski Hotel on Tuesday, May 13, 2019, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo indicated that there must be an accelerated effort to first of all tackle teenage pregnancy in order to check HIV transmission from mother to child.
“According to the 2018 UNAID report, Ghana had an estimated 3,400 HIV new infections in children under 14 years in 2017. Though this indicated a decline of 42% from 2005, we need to accelerate our response if we want to eliminate HIV infection in children. The good news is there are tried and tested interventions that have demonstrated favorable outcomes. We do not have to do anything new”, the first lady said.
She continued, “We know that a significant number of pregnant women are teenagers and we do know that teenage pregnancy declines sharply with education. Therefore the interventions amongst young women to prevent them from contracting HIV will be in sections including access to family planning services, girl child education, and economic empowerment”.
Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo additionally stressed that making anti-retroviral drugs available to all HIV positive pregnant women, is a key step to eliminating mother to child transmission and called for support for these women with regards to adhering to their medicines to prevent transmission to their babies.
She added, “I charge the Ghana Health Service, to have a reporting system that identifies every single infant who is infected with HIV. We need to understand whether the mother attended antenatal clinic, tested for HIV, was offered and adhered to antiretroviral drugs and practiced exclusive breastfeeding. This will fine-tune our program, as we move towards the elimination of pediatric HIV”.