ALERE Incorporated, a global diagnostic device and service provider company has donated 12,000 duo HIV and Syphilis test kits to the First Lady and President of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), Mrs Lordina Mahama.
The SD HIV/Syphilis duo was a rapid diagnostic test kit for the simultaneous prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis results in 20 minutes.
Ms Zeina Henaine, ALERE Social Responsibility Ambassador for Africa, who presented the items commended the First Lady for her hard work and dedication in ensuring the welfare of women and children in less privilege areas.
Presenting the test kits at a ceremony in Accra last Friday, Ms said using a dual screening test for HIV and syphilis would permit an efficient extension of maternal care services and support health capacity.
She said the presentation formed part of a pledge made by the ALERE group to members of the OAFLA last year in New York following recognition that more than one million women and families had to face the trauma of repeated pregnancy loss, stillbirth or child born infected with and suffering from HIV and syphilis.
She explained that apart from their role as OAFLA members the First Ladies had their individual projects which they executed in their respective countries, hence the need to support their efforts.
Ms Henaine, said HIV and syphilis were the major public health problem affecting women and their newborn infants in the world, and 90 per cent HIV infections to children were from mother-to -child transmission during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding.
She said pregnant women infected with syphilis might transmit to their unborn child and although it syphilis is easily curable with penicillin, unlike HIV which were routinely tested in pregnant women, there were usually no tests carried out for syphilis pregnant women.
According to her, when detected, treatment in the early stage of pregnancy could prevent congenial syphilis, stillbirth or premature births.
In a speech read on her behalf, by Dr Angela El-Adas, Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, the First Lady said the incorporation of both HIV and syphilis tests in a single kit had many advantages.
It would save the use of needles and blood volume, eliminating the need for laboratory personnel or infrastructure, as well as decreased time to results, and overall it lowered the cost of testing.
She said using a dual screening test for HIV and syphilis would also reduce testing duplications, labor time, logistics fee, storage space and operating costs partly because it did not require electricity or other equipment.
She said the Standard Diagnostics (SD) HIV/syphilis duo test kits were indeed one of a kind as they could detect HIV and Syphilis with the same specimen using a single device.
Mrs Mahama said like many other members of OAFLA, Ghana had benefitted first hand from those kits which were for use “during our the elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission (eMTCT) outreaches conducted throughout the country”.
The elimination of mother-to-child transmission outreaches was aimed at bringing services to the communities using an integrated health approach.
“With the donation from Alere, we can now move from two different kits for HIV/Syphilis to a single test kit. Our clients will access HIV and syphilis testing services at a single point instead of moving from one source point to another”, she said
According to the First Lady it had taken a lot of time to receive Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) approval for those test kits, and it had been worth every effort put in by the Ministry of Health and Alere since the delivery of the SD HIV/syphilis duo kits by Alere to the OAFLA Ghana Chapter in November 2015.
She expressed her appreciation to Alere for providing innovative kits, and appealed to them to increase the allocation of the SD HIV/syphilis kits initially delivered to Ghana to support its first 90 campaign to test 6 million people over the next 12 months.