Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, Deputy Director General, Ghana Health Service (GHS), said the HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women in Ghana stood at 1.9 per cent after peaking at 3.6 per cent in 2003.
She said though significant gains had been reported as far as HIV and AIDS in Ghana was concern, the burden of mother- to- child transmission was of grave concern to the health sector.
Dr Quansah Asare said this during an evaluation of the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) project carried out in the Greater Accra Region by the Government with support from the Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA).
“As Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV is practically the only way that children under the age of five in Ghana acquire the virus, the importance of PMTCT could not be overemphasized,” she said.
She said the PMTCT project was a three-year programme initiated in 2011 by the Ministry of Health, the Ghana AIDS Commission, the Ghana Health Service and JICA to help reduce incidences of HIV infection among children in the Greater Accra Region and the country as a whole.
Mr Shigeru Umetsu, Deputy Chief of Mission, Japan Embassy, said since the 1960s, the Government of Japan had regarded the health sector as a priority.
He said the Japanese Embassy had sent many Japanese experts and received many Ghanaians for their training programmes in Japan, financially supported numerous projects including funding for the Noguchi Memorial Institute and contributed to the Health Sector Budget for the past four years.
“We have also been working in the Upper West Region, building about 70 CHPS compounds as well as building the capacity of community health nurses,” he said.
He said given that mother-to-child transmission was practically the only way for children under the age of five to acquire the virus, PTMCT services were key in achieving the MDGs on maternal and child health.
He appealed to Government to endeavour to replicate the PTMCT project in the other nine regions in an effort to curb mother-to-child infection of HIV.
Mr Tsuyoshi Tanaka, Senior Representative JICA, Ghana Office, said the components of the project included Capacity Enhancement in Supportive Supervision, Capacity Enhancement in PMTCT Service Delivery and capacity Enhancement in Information, Education and Communication (IEC) aspects of the PMTCT intervention.
He said from all indications, the project had strengthened the administrative systems for providing PMTCT-IEC services in the Greater Accra Region and created a solid foundation for its scale-up session which could be carried out in the whole country.
Some of the benefits of the PMTCT projects in the Greater Accra Region after the three-year period include the training of 227 health staff in PMTCT, training in Early Infant Diagnosis for 118 health workers and ART orientations for 45 prescribers.
The rest are PMTCT sensitisation for 47 staff working at laboratories and pharmacies, support supervision capacity enhancement workshops for all HIV supervisors in the region and on-site coaching conducted by Japanese experts in supportive supervision and data management at the facility level.
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