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The Sunyani Municipal Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has urged pregnant women to report early to hospital to start Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) to protect their unborn babies from possible HIV infection.

According to the Directorate, the early report to the clinic for the ART services could reduce the incidence of mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus.

Dr. Mrs. Paulina Appiah, the Municipal Director of Health Services gave the advice in Sunyani when she addressed the 2018 annual performance review meeting of the Directorate which was designed to build on the progress made in the health services delivery in the Municipality.

The one-day event on the regional GHS theme “Attaining Universal Health Coverage through Effective Leadership and Governance” was attended by about 90 participants from various stakeholder organisations and institutions.

They included; accredited staff of the Directorate, selected personnel of public and private health providers, the Municipal Directorate of the Ghana Education Service, the Security Services, the Municipal Assembly, traditional leaders and health-centred Non-Governmental and civil society organisations.

She said one of the major objectives of the Directorate was to intensify prevention and control of communicable diseases and reduce new HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STI), especially among the vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, adolescents and female sex workers.

Dr Mrs. Appiah indicated that HIV prevalence in the Municipality was 2.3 per cent in 2018 compared to 2.5 per cent in 2017 adding that “187 pregnant women tested positive in 2018 with 10.8 per cent of exposed babies testing positive compared to 160 in 2017 with 2.9 per cent of babies testing positive”

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Dr. Mrs. Appiah expressed worry that “the Directorate does not appear to have control of the HIV situation in the Municipality”.

She therefore stressed the need for stronger and better collaboration with the Municipal Assembly to access the 0.5 per cent HIV funds for the Directorate to intensify HIVAIDS prevention sensitisation and education campaign within the Municipality.

The Sunyani Municipal Health Director reiterated that the GHS was making relentless efforts to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV to less than 5 per cent for elimination of it.

She said the main challenge was the failure of pregnant women to report to designated health facilities early to start the ART.

Dr. Mrs. Appiah therefore emphasised that every pregnant woman must be tested to know her HIV status so that positive ones would be put on ART to prevent infection on unborn babies.

She touched on a number of programmes organised that pertained to the achievement of the objectives of the Directorate for improved and effective health care services in the Municipality.

Dr. Mrs. Appiah cited free health care services and screening in hypertension, HIV, diabetes, tuberculosis, condom distribution and provision of vaccination services for children as some of the public programmes and services the Directorate undertook within the year under review.

On staff attrition, she suggested the need “to train new staff on provision of care and implement the treat all policy”.

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