Government to improve maternal, neonatal and childcare for Ghanaians

President John Dramani Mahama has announced the formation of a landmark global consortium charged with fulfilling his pledge to eliminate Mother-to-Child Transmission (eMTCT) of HIV in Ghana. The President’s renewed commitment is part of his programme to improve maternal, neonatal and childcare for Ghanaians.

The consortium leading the fight on Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV draws on the unique expertise, experience, and technical capacity of the Ghana Health Service, Yale University, IBM, and The ONE Campaign. As a collaborative effort, several local partners, including the Ghana AIDS Commission, Christian Health Association of Ghana, the National House of Chiefs and the Rotary Club of Ghana, will be playing critical roles at various stages towards the success of the consortium’s objective.

Despite recent progress in reducing the number of new HIV infections, Ghana is currently among the 22 countries with the highest burden of HIV among pregnant women. Testing for HIV during pregnancy is often deferred due to lack of public awareness, limited access to diagnostic tests, and cultural stigma.

The initial objective of the consortium’s agenda is to reduce the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Ghana to less than 5% by 2018, which would meet the World Health Organization (WHO) criterion for elimination. However, President Mahama’s primary goal is to set in motion a system that will ensure a reduction in the rate of Mother-to-Child Transmission to less than 1% by 2020.

Under the coordinated leadership of the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service, the Ghana AIDS Commission and the National AIDS Control Programme, an ambitious goal has been set to Test, Treat, and Track all HIV-positive pregnancies in Ghana, as a key strategy for meeting the diagnostic and therapeutic support needs for elimination.

To achieve this, the consortium is establishing a robust information technology infrastructure, streamlining existing healthcare resource allocations, raising public awareness, and building human capacity to ensure the efficient use of resources to enable women and children at risk of HIV & AIDS to benefit from state of the art care.

For the past seven years Yale University (in New Haven, Connecticut, USA), through its Ghana-Yale Partnership for Global Health, has supported collaborative research and training initiatives focused on diseases of public health concern, leveraging its relationships with leading government, private and non-profit institutions. Under the eMTCT initiative, Yale faculty experts will engage in collaborative research, education, and training to support care providers and public health officers, in the spirit of cross fertilization of ideas and generation of new knowledge, to inform decision makers.

To bring this to life on a large scale, IBM researchers and consultants are working with the Ghana Health Service and Yale global health experts to design a sustainable, secure and efficient public health initiative. IBM's pro bono Corporate Service Corps problem-solving teams will design a blueprint for effectively implementing and managing eMTCT efforts at the community, district and national levels.  
They will plan for a programme based on sound principles guiding its governance and operation using latest technology. For instance, the powerful IBM System z can tap sophisticated cloud, mobile and big data technologies to enable practitioners and stakeholders to reliably and securely capture, store and retrieve programmatic, operational and healthcare information -- whether in clinics, offices or the field.