Health News of Monday, 16 July 2012

Source: GNA

Ghana needs $73 million to stop mother-to-child transmission of HIV

The Programme Manager of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), Dr Nii Akwei Addo has said Ghana needs 73 million US dollars to implement fully the national strategic plan to ensure zero transmission of HIV from pregnant women to their babies by 2015.

He said due to the dwindling of support from development partners of the country, the NACP had submitted a proposal to Cabinet to establish the National AIDS Fund to mobilize local resources to ensure sustainability of programmes initiated to control the spread of HIV in the country.

Dr Addo was speaking at a consultative meeting on the scaling-up of Prevention of Mother-to-Child-Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in the Eastern Region at Koforidua on Sunday.

The programme, which was organised by the Technical Support Unit of the Ghana AIDS Commission in the Eastern Region and the Eastern Regional AIDS Committee, was attended by over 120 participants including District Focal Persons of HIV, opinion leaders from the districts, traditional authorities, assembly members, representatives of civil society organizations in the region and media practitioners.

Dr Addo thanked Ciros Oil Company of Ghana for promising to donate 250,000 US dollars annually for the next five years to support HIV and AIDS programmes in the country and urged other local companies to learn from their example.

In a speech read on his behalf, Mr Victor Smith, the Easter Regional Minister advocated for an oversight team or task force to monitor the implementation of all decisions and strategies adopted to ensure increase in services at both regional and community levels on the PMTCT.

He appealed to the participants of the workshop including traditional rulers, religious leaders, faith-based organisations, assembly members, health workers and community leaders to identify their responsibilities and discharge them diligently towards the vision of the region of ensuring elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

The Technical Director of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), Dr Joseph Amuzu, said PMTCT needed to receive vigorous attention if the country was to achieve a generation free of HIV.

He said despite the importance and advantages of the PMTCT programme, its implementation in the country was facing challenges including coverage, finance and staff needs.

Dr Amuzu said there was the need for prioritization of resources and appropriate strategies to ensure the implementation of the programme and called for the involvement of husbands and men in antenatal prevention of mother-to–child transmission of HIV.

The Eastern Regional Deputy Director of Health Services in-charge of Clinical Care, Dr Larbi Addo, supported the mobilization of local resources to promote the health needs of the country.

He said the time for depending on foreign support was gradually fading away and the country needed to look within for the required support.

The Eastern Regional Technical Coordinator of the GAC, Ms Golda G. Asante said the meeting was to discuss how to encourage pregnant women to take advantage of services near them in the PMTCT of HIV.

She said it was also to find out the challenges in the implementation of the PMTCT, analyze those challenges and find solutions and to discuss the role of district directors of health services, public health nurses and how to mobilize communities in the region to get involved in the implementation of the regional strategic plan on the PMTCT.**