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Health News of Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Source: GNA

Broken PCR machine increasing risk of mother-to-child HIV

The breakdown of the Polymrase Chain Reaction (PCR), dioxyrubonncleic acid (DNA) machine at the Korle-bu Teaching hospital is affecting efforts being made to eliminate Mother-to-Child Transmission(eMTCT) of HIV in Ghana.

Currently the PCR machine, which is used for the testing of DNA samples of infants, has been out of order since last year and efforts to restore its services has proved fruitless.

As a result of the breakdown, blood samples that are collected from babies born to mothers with HIV are still on hold in the various hospitals in the Greater Accra Metropolis who access such services from Korle-bu.

Ms Christiana Nyantekyi, a Principal Nursing Officer at the La General Hospital told a team of journalists in an interview that the continuous interruption in the care and treatment of children born to persons living with HIV and AIDS could slow down and even distort efforts made so far to eliminate transmission of the virus from mothers to children in the country.

The journalists were on a field visit to the hospital as part of a three-day training programme which was organised by the Ghana AIDS Commission in collaboration with the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council to whip up and sustain public interest in the national response particularly on human rights, stigma and discrimination among the Most at Risk Populations (MARP) as well as the eMTCT.

Mrs Nyantekyi said both service providers and parents of these babies feel helpless, as further prolonging of the situation could lead to new infections.

This, She said, is because the babies are to be followed up after their initial therapy from birth, to six weeks with a critical testing of their DNA blood samples to ascertain their HIV status.

As part of efforts to eMTCT, babies born to HIV-positive mothers are given immediate doses of a special antiretroviral drug to prevent infection which could occur during the labour process.

The process is continued with further testing of the baby's blood within a period of six weeks after birth to ensure their safety from the virus and that is why it is critical that the machine should be replaced or repaired to eliminate the possible setback this could cause to efforts of attaining total eMTCT in Ghana.

Ms Nyantekyi appealed to the authorities responsible for procurement of the health care equipment to expedite action on restoring the services of the PCR machine to ease the current tension among parents of these babies as well as the frustrations of the health care providers.

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