‘Don’t just suck breast, examine It’
The Eastern Regional Minister, Helen Adwoa Ntoso, has joined the Minister of Health to appeal to Ghanaian men to examine the breasts of their female partners by helping to identify the lumps in their breasts and not just take pleasure in sucking them.
The Ministers made the call at Koforidua at a function to launch a programme by the First Lady, Lordina Mahama, who is also the Vice President of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), West Africa Chapter.
Ms Ntoso observed that even though the Eastern Region continues to lead in the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, significant progress had been made in providing support services, prevention of new infections and treatment to persons who needed them.
She said this was as a result of good political leadership and hard work of some chiefs, Ghana AIDS Commission, religious bodies, amongst others.
With high HIV prevalence among women visiting antenatal clinics in the region, there is the possibility of high vertical transmission from mothers to unborn babies if the positive women are not made to utilize the services available to them.
This, according to her, poses a serious threat to efforts to attain the MDG-6.
Sherry Ayittey said the national HIV prevalence and AIDS estimation report indicated that over 2,300 new infections were averted in children in 2012, through the provision of prevention from mother to child transmission (PMTCT) services.
Last year, she noted that the programme prevented an estimated 900 deaths amongst children with some 70 percent of persons living with HIV accessing medication.
About 60 percent out of 235,982 people who are currently living with HIV are women.
She said there is room for improvement in order to get to zero new infection and zero AIDS-related deaths.
Ms Ayittey said the creation of awareness of fatal conditions such as breast and cervical cancer and providing information on early detection would help to a large extent.
She noted that Ghanaians need to intensify the prevention arm of health delivery system and encourage others to adopt simple but effective process and procedures; example, washing of hands with soap and water before eating, using condoms constantly and correctly, testing for HIV when pregnant, amongst others.
The First Lady, Lordina Mahama, said her presence in the region was to discuss pertinent issues, which were so dear to her heart, which she stressed, bordered on mother-to-child HIV transmission as well as the effects of breast and cervical cancer in women.
She said Ghana needs to have an HIV-free generation.
She observed that the mother-to-child HIV/AIDS transmission was a major contributor to global morbidity and mortality in children under age five.
About 1000 HIV-infected infants are born every day mostly in the Sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in nearly 370,000 new pediatric infections annually.
Without treatment, over half of these children would die before age two.
Without diagnosis and treatment, about 35 percent of HIV-infected pregnant women would transmit HIV to their infants.
She explained that available information from the Ghana Health Services indicated that 3,038 women are diagnosed annually with cervical cancer out of which 2,006 die from the disease every year.
At Oyoko, where breast and cervical cancer screening was organised for free, she appealed to every woman to screen and also test for their HIV/AIDS status.
The Director of Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr Angela El-Ades also explained some of the help available to persons living with HIV/AIDS and pleaded with people to put an end to the stigmatisation.