Ghana’s mother-to-child HIV transmission rate dropped significantly from 31 per cent in 2009 to nine percent last year.
The country also saw a leap in coverage of HIV-AIDS services for women living with the virus from 32 per cent to 90 per cent over the same period.
The United Nations Program 2013 global report on AIDS however indicates Ghana failed to hit the 90 percent target for anti-retroviral services for infected persons.
The global annual infection rate of HIV among adults decreased by 50 per cent with a significant decline in HIV-related deaths.
There were fears Ghana could face difficulty in her effort to reduce HIV infection rate by 50 per cent by 2015.
It followed withdrawal of funding assistance in 2012 by the Global Fund which had since 2005 been contributing about 70 per cent of Ghana’s anti-HIV programme.
With support from Ghana government and partners, however, the National AIDS Control Programme has stepped up work to reduce mother-to-child transmission and new infections.
There are about 230 thousand people currently living with HIV in Ghana. Out of 110,000 infected people who qualify for treatment, 80,000 have been receiving services as at last September.
The Joint United Nations Program on AIDS report names Ghana and three other priority African countries as having met global goal of providing antiretroviral drugs to 90 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV.
“In Ghana, for example, the risk that a woman living with HIV will transmit the virus to her child has declined from 31% in 2009 to 9% (7–11%) in 2012. The coverage of services for women living with HIV, to prevent mother-to-child transmission in Ghana, increased dramatically from 32% (27–38%) in 2009 to more than 90% in 2012,” The UNAIDS report stated.
Officials of the National AIDS Control Program are happy about the development.
Programmes Manager, Dr. Nii Akwei Addo, however, says there is more work to be done in order to sustain and improve the gains.
“We have been increasing the number of service delivery sites; hospitals, health centers, clinics providing these services across all the districts in the country…We are not hundred per cent covered but we’ve done almost 2000 sites providing services. The services are free. We are reaching a lot more pregnant women with testing and of those that we find HIV positive, we are able to give medicine to over 90 per cent”.
This means only 9 out of 100 every HIV positive pregnant women may be passing the virus to their babies.
The number of HIV positives on antiretroviral treatment increased globally from 1.6 million people in 2011 to over 9.7 million in 2012 among both low and middle income countries. Statistics show number of people on treatment has tripled over the past five years.
The report noted poor prioritization of adolescents in strategic plans for scale-up of HIV treatment and lack of testing and counselling as one of the reasons that accounted for increased death of people aged between 10 and 19.
“People affected by humanitarian crises confront unique barriers to health care access, including concerns regarding confidentiality, denial of access to asylum procedures, fears regarding refoulement and restrictions on freedom of movement. Globally, there were an estimated 45.2 million refugees in 2012, including 26.4 million internally displaced persons. Adolescents (10–19 years) are the only age group in which AIDS deaths have risen between 2001 and 2012”
Ghana is among 30 countries globally which were unable to achieve 90 per cent reach in antiretroviral services.
Top on the list are Angola, Brazil, China, Cameroon, Central African Republic, among others. The National AIDS Control Program says more resources are needed to meet the shortfall.
The Global Fund has since increased fund allocation for HIV/AIDS to Ghana’s Health Ministry to over 30 million US Dollars.
Dr. Akwei Addo says the programme is sourcing additional 15 million US dollars from the Global Fund for mother-to-child transmission programs for 2014.
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