First Lady Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has called for the full support and participation of men in addressing the problem of mother-to-child HIV transmission as well as breast cancer in Ghana.
Speaking at the launch of the National Acceleration Plan for Pediatric HIV Services today at Ho, she said that though issues of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and breast cancer may focus on women, the involvement, encouragement, support and guidance of men in addressing these issues cannot be over-emphasized. She stressed that “without full support of men, all the achievements we have chalked so far will be lost” urging that “that we need you now more than ever if we are to make greater strides.”
She stated that though Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV services are being provided in more than 2000 facilities in Ghana to prevent new HIV infections in children, the current mother-to-child transmission of HIV above 10% and below 30% coverage of care for children and adolescents is unacceptable making it more important “to drive us all to urgently move beyond business as usual, to fast-track the implementation of critical services for our children and adolescents.”
She called for institutions not to leave the challenge to only government and state institutions to deal with but commit and support the four key steps adopted to eliminate this form of HIV transmission in the shortest time possible. This steps, she said, include ensuring that no girl or woman of reproductive age gets infected with HIV, preventing unwanted pregnancies in women living with HIV, prevention of HIV transmission from mother-to-child during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding and providing on-going support and care to mothers, their children and their families.
Mrs. Akufo-Addo also said that, for her, beside being a steering committee member of OAFLA and the Premier Ambassador of Ghana for HIV Advocacy, Elimination of Mother to Child HIV Transmission and Keeping Mothers Alive, as well as Empowerment of Young Women and Adolescent Girls in prevention of mother-to-child transmission and women’s reproductive health, she has a great passion for dealing with healthcare issues of women and children therefore she will do all she can to better the lives of women and children.
The First Lady also expressed concern at breast cancer being the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Ghana citing a GLOBOCAN report which indicates a prevalence of 37 in every 100,000 people. She noted that for the more 4000 Ghanaian women who suffer breast cancer each year, 70% of breast cancer cases are reported and diagnosed late making it incurable. She therefore encouraged all women screen regular and report all anomalies as soon as possible since breast cancer is curable especially if detected early.
She said that, as expressed by the President severally, she believes “health services is a right for all Ghanaians and every Ghanaian must have easy access to it to improve their well-being”
As part of the launch, Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) Ghana Chapter partnered with the Ghana AIDS Commission, Alere Incorporated and Roche Products Ghana Ltd, to undertake HIV, Breast Cancer and general health screening for the locals.