Mr Julius Debrah, the Chief of Staff, has challenged the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) and its partners to adopt proactive and radical approach to control mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
He emphasized that children remain the hope and future of the nation, and the GAC must therefore mobilize resources to ensure that new birth infections are reduced and brought to the barest minimum.
Mr Debrah threw the challenge when he addressed a durbar of chiefs and people of the Brong-Ahafo Region to mark this year’s national celebration of the World AIDS Day in Sunyani.
The theme for the 2015 celebration is “Fast track: meeting the health needs of children towards an HIV-free generation.”
Mr Debrah noted that the GAC had chalked out remarkable strides in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
He said the national prevalence rate of the disease which stood at 3.6 per cent in 2003 had gone down and stabilized at 1.47 per cent.
Mr Debrah expressed worry that the gains are being reversed during the breastfeeding period when babies get infected because their mothers are not on effective treatment.
He expressed the need for the GAC to extend its roles in the implementation of the global plan, to ensure that every exposed baby has access to “Early Infant Diagnosis” for HIV and universal HIV treatment coverage for children.
“But first we need to critically assess our pediatric care for children living with HIV”, Mr Debrah added.
The Chief of Staff said the GAC and its partners must intensify mobilisation of resources to avoid the transmission of the disease from parents to their children and also ensure that infected mothers especially stay alive.
Mr Debrah charged the GAC to make the effort to place 90 per cent of people living with HIV and AIDS on anti-retroviral therapy to guarantee the achievement of set targets for its five-year strategic plan.
Dr Victor Bampo, the Deputy Minister of Health, noted that despite the enormous challenges that threaten the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country, the Ministry had positioned itself to continue to provide technical and other support to the GAC to meet the needs of especially children towards HIV-free society.
He emphasised that the Ministry has intensified efforts to ensure that HIV testing are conducted at all health settings without obstructions to enhance HIV and AIDS detection rate.
Dr Bampo said government appreciates the contributions of the GAC and its partners in the fight against the disease and entreated Ghanaians to avoid stigmatisation and discrimination of people living with HIV and AIDS to minimise the spread of the disease.
Mr Eric Opoku, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, observed that the spread of HIV and AIDS is linked to people’s behavioural patterns and advised Ghanaians to check their health status at regular intervals.
He expressed regret that the Regional prevalence rate had risen sharply from 2.1 per cent in 2013 to 2.6 per cent in 2014 according to the sentinel survey report.
Mr Opoku called on development partners, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to extend strategic interventions to areas in the Region that are prone to the spread of the infections.