Accra, Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, Programme Manager for the National AIDS/STI Control Programme, has emphasized the need for strong political commitment to combat Pediatric HIV in West and Central Africa, including Ghana.
According to Ghana News Agency, Speaking at a three-day regional summit in Accra on ending AIDS in children, Dr. Ayisi highlighted the necessity of focusing on data analysis, ongoing dialogue, funding, and capacity building within health systems and among state actors to fight Pediatric HIV effectively. The summit, organized by the Civil Society Institute for Health in West and Central Africa (CSO WCA) in collaboration with Ghana HIV and AIDS Network (GHANET) and supported by USAID, aimed to unite civil society organizations (CSOs) in the region to end AIDS. The initiative also focuses on empowering communities and CSOs to conduct testing, outreach, and provide care and support. Dr. Ayisi pointed out that children represent seven percent of Ghana’s total HIV population of 354,927, underscoring the urgency of addressing Pediatric HIV.
He also stressed the significance of supporting caregivers and families psycho-socially to provide adequate care. Mrs. Nguissali Turpin, Executive Director of CSO WCA, mentioned that 60 percent of children living with HIV are aware of their status, but only half are receiving Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). She expressed concern that 65 percent of new HIV infections in children occur because their mothers lack adequate ART treatment. The summit is seen as a critical step to align West and Central Africa with global efforts to tackle pediatric HIV.
Dr. Rita Owusu-Amankwah, representing the Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), emphasized the Commission’s commitment to mobilizing community support and eradicating stigmatization in all settings. Dr. Sebastian Sandaare, Member of Parliament and member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, called for adequate resources to prevent HIV in children and assured of the Committee’s support in securing budgetary allocation for HIV treatment. Mr. Héctor Sucilla Pérez, UNAIDS Country Director to Ghana, underlined the importance of community leadership and collaborative mechanisms in ending AIDS in children and eliminating mother-to-child transmission. The summit also featured personal experiences from young adults who have been living with HIV since childhood, who called for increased resources to eradicate the disease among children.