The First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama has launched the second phase of the campaign to prevent Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV and Keep Mothers Alive at Gbawe in Accra, with a call on women to regularly test their breasts for early detection of cancer.
The campaign, which offers free cervical and breast cancer screening, HIV and syphilis screening, reproductive health testing as well as counselling materials and distribution of free condoms among others.
The campaign was launched by the Ghana Chapter of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) in collaboration with the Ghana AIDS Commission and UT Foundation in Accra.
Launching the campaign at a colourful ceremony at the forecourt of the Gbawe Chief’s Palace in Accra, the First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama called on men to join in the education and encouragement of women and young girls to test for HIV and also test their breast for cancers.
According to her, together with the men, Ghana could eliminate AIDS and prevent new HIV infections adding that when men understood and appreciated women health issues they were able to better support their wives to ensure safer and better reproductive health behaviour at home.
Mrs Mahama stressed that prevention was the key to saving lives of dear ones and the development of Ghana depended on the health of the people.
She said Ghana had been working hard through the Ghana AIDS Commission, with the support of her office, to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV?by ensuring that no girl or woman in her reproductive age got infected with HIV.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr Angela El-Adas, said in Ghana, HIV disproportionately affected women, and together with children, they formed about 70 per cent of all HIV cases.
She said in 2013, about 2,400 children under the age of 15 were newly infected with HIV with only one quarter of these children having access to effective treatment.
Additionally, Dr El-Adas said there was a huge gap in addressing the reproductive health needs of women as each year, more than 3,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and almost half of those women die.
“Another seven per cent will develop breast cancer”, she said.
Dr El-Adas asserted that it was for those reasons that the Ghana AIDS Commission had been collaborating with the Ghana Chapter of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), in a nationwide campaign.
She said as Ghana’s premier Ambassador for the “Global plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive” the role of the First Lady ties-in perfectly with the priorities of the commission, as well as the objectives of OAFLA.
She said among her peers on the continent, Mrs Lordina Mahama is recognised for her passion and commitment to empowering the vulnerable and marginalised in society, as well as ensuring the health of women through advocacy for the prevention and early detection of HIV, breast and cervical cancers.
“It came as no surprise therefore, that the First Lady has recently been elected as the new President of OAFLA”, she said.
Speaking at the launch, the Accra Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo said the campaign was highly esteemed globally and was also designed to tackle reproductive health issues that mostly affect women and children, which hitherto were not given prominence.
He said it comes as no surprise that the continent had elected the First Lady as the President of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA) and the UNAIDS premier ambassador for the implementation of the global plan towards the elimination of new infections among children.
For his part, the Municipal Chief Executive of Ga South Municipal Assembly, Mr Jerry Akwei Thompson said over the years the assembly had been making tremendous efforts to ensure that the people who resided in the municipality had access to good healthcare.