To achieve the desired results in the Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, the Eastern Region has decentralised the treatment and care of pregnant women to make it easier and convenient for them to receive the needed care at all health posts running ante-natal clinics.
Ms Golda Asante, the Technical Coordinator of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) for the Eastern Region said the move was to offer one stop intervention where pregnant women who tested HIV positive would not be burdened with going from one facility to the other to satisfy the conditions for the administration of Anti Retroviral Therapy(ART).
The practice had been that, pregnant women who tested HIV positive at ante-natal clinics were referred to other hospitals to do further test to confirm the results and also to access their CD4 count.
The practice entailed a lot of movement which has been identified as stressful to pregnant women hence the decentralization where pregnant women would get all their requirement at the ante-natal clinic.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) programme in Koforidua, Ms Asante observed that , most pregnant women who test HIV positive, fail to undergo the treatment to prevent infection of their babies and hoped that , with the introduction of the one-stop intervention, it would encourage such people to undergo the treatment.
Ms Asante explained that 7 out of 10 pregnant women who test HIV positive when put on treatment, would give birth to babies who are HIV negative, yet the PMTCT was threatened because many pregnant mothers who tested positive break the treatment due to several reasons including stigma and low male involvement.
She said, figures recorded at ante-natal clinics in the Eastern Region alone of pregnant women who tested HIV positive were alarming and most of them default treatment and go to prayer camps which meant that, most of the babies that would be borne by such mothers would be HIV positive and that raises concerns for the future of HIV cases in the region as far as children are concern.
Ms Asante therefore urged the participants who included parish priests and lay persons of churches to use the pulpit to educate pregnant women to attend ante-natal clinics to know their status and those who test positive and placed on treatment to continue with the treatment as well as involvement of their husbands in PMTCT.
She said most pregnant women default in treatment because of stigma and the fear to disclose their status to their husbands who often blamed the women for promiscuity and appealed to the participants to be advocates for PMTCT to achieve 100 per cent response.
The CPE is chaplaincy training for priests and lay persons, on how to handle HIV patients and all other patients of terminal diseases.
The programme is run in four units for one to be fully qualified as a chaplain and it is being run by Monsignor Bobby Benson, Founder and Director of the Mathew 25 House, an HIV and AIDS care centre in Koforidua as an extension of providing in-depth knowledge on HIV and AIDS and strategies to care for them
Monsignor Benson urged the participants who included parish priests, chaplains of hospitals and Prison officers to establish support groups for people living with HIV because that was a strategy to reach out to their needs. GNA