The high-level advocacy and reproductive health service delivery campaign spearheaded by the First Lady, Nana DrLordinaDramaniMahama, on Monday organized a health screening exercise for women groups in selected communities in Accra.
The campaign dubbed: ‘Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and keeping Mothers Alive Campaign’ forms part of a broader operational plan of the Ghana chapter of the Organization of African First Ladies Association (OAFLA).
The campaign since 2013 is championed by the OAFLA and the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC) to strengthen Ghana’s PMTCT of HIV and reproductive health especially people living with HIV and women in communities.
Activities of the campaign include high level advocacy, HIV testing and counseling, breast and cervical cancer screening, syphilis screening and reproductive health education in communities.
The campaign was initially funded by OAFLA head office with complementary from the Government of Ghana on which the GAC move to mobilize additional resources from the private sector, which resulted in a partnership with the UT Foundation.
The partnership earmarked health outreaches in five selected sites in the Greater Accra Region in 2015 including Weija, Kasoa, Ningo Ada and Adabraka.
MrsMahama said statistics from the outreach programmes have shown that many women have very little information and knowledge about breast and cervical cancers. Some women who have the information are too busy with work and family to take advantage of the health services available to them.
She said the result is that people are diagnosed with diseases at an advanced stage and make its management difficult and that some women wait until well into their pregnancy to report to the clinic for HIV and Syphilis screening.
“When victims are diagnosed early, babies can be prevented from HIV infection from an HIV pregnant woman or from a breastfeeding mother and that is why I am fully committed to see the community outreach programmes reaching all Ghanaian women irrespective of age and location”.
MrsMahama who is also the President of OAFLA said the Lordina Foundation, together with its partners have organized similar awareness creation and health screening exercises at Mallam, Gbawe, Kasoa, Ningo and Ada and that these outreach programmes have been highly successful, bringing the much needed attention and health education to the communities
She noted that the large presence of the people to participate in the screening exercise tells her of their readiness to access health and screening services in order to stay healthy.
“Participants will be offered reproductive health services, especially screening of breast and cervical cancers, syphilis and HIV testing.
“As you to go back home, please share today’s experience with your sisters in the communities to get more people informed and also access PMTCT, breast and cervical cancer services”.
The OAFLA President noted that her campaign with the GAC and UNAIDS to prevent PMTCT is achieving results and have been encouraging pregnant women to ask for and received the prevention services any time they go to the antenatal clinic.
She said about 70 per cent of HIV positive pregnant women across the country are receiving Anti-retroviral medications to prevent their babies from getting infected with HIV and that her target is to ensure that all pregnant HIV positive women are diagnosed and received treatment so that no baby is born HIV positive, “Ghana must achieve an HIV free generation”.
MrsMahama thanked the OAFLA, the GAC and UT Cares Foundation for the support and expressed her appreciation to the health workers for the time and effort made to support HIV prevention and care to save our babies and keep their mother’s alive.
Nana Oye-Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection said, about 70 per cent of the victims tested for HIV/AIDS in the country are women and that one of the desires of MrsMahama is to help prevent and eradicate the mother-to-child transmission in Ghana.
She said women were the backbone of Ghana’s development and must be recognized as such and that this programme was in response to the First Lady’s visit to some communities on the mother-to-child transmission.
Madam Comfort Asamoah-Adu, Executive Director of the West African Programme to Combat AIDS and STI (WAPCAS) said the objective of the exercise is to extend to as many women within the communities.
“It is expected that 200 more women would received the screening and testing and counseling and plans are under way to have the regional campaign implemented in the Volta, Northern, Ashanti, and BrongAhafo Regions before the end of the year”.
Present at the event were Mr Alex Segbefia, Minister of Health, MrNiiLaryeaAfotey-Agbo, Greater Accra Regional Minister, Dr Angela El Adas, Director General, Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr Alfred OkoeVanderpuye, Mayor of Accra.