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Yale partners with Ghana to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission

March 28, 2014
by Helen Dodson

Read this article on YaleNews

Yale University is collaborating with the government of Ghana and other high-profile organizations to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Ghana. President John Dramani Mahama has announced the formation of a global consortium that also includes IBM, The ONE Campaign to prevent poverty and disease, and several local partners in Ghana.

Ghana has one of the highest rates of HIV among pregnant women in the world. HIV testing 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 is to reduce the rate of mother-to-child transmission to less than 5% by the year 2018, which would meet a goal set by the World Health Organization. The government of Ghana would like to go even further, however, ensuring a reduction to less than 1% by 2020.

Through its Ghana-Yale Partnership for Global Health, Yale supports collaborative research and bi-directional training initiatives focused on diseases of public health significance in sub-Saharan Africa. Under this new consortium, Yale students and faculty members will engage in HIV research, education, and training to support care providers and public health officers, in order to protect the lives of women and their babies.

Doctors Elijah Paintsil and Michael Cappello, Yale pediatric faculty members and co-directors of the Ghana-Yale partnership, played key roles in forging this initiative.

“In most resource-limited countries, mother-to-child transmission of HIV continues to fuel the HIV epidemic,” Paintsil said. “Scientific discoveries from universities are meaningless unless they translate to the alleviation of human suffering around the globe.” The Ghana-Yale Partnership for Global Health is a unique prototype of what academic partnership should be, he added, saying that it is based on mutual respect and trust. “With this unprecedented public-private partnership and firm political will, achieving an HIV-free generation in Africa is now clearly within our reach.”

“Since its founding in 2007, collaborative research conducted under the Ghana-Yale Partnership for Global Health has advanced our understanding of HIV and parasitic diseases, and its training efforts have increased capacity in biomedical research at the University of Ghana and Yale,” Cappello said. “We are excited to extend the collaborative network of the Ghana-Yale Partnership to include the Ghana Health Service, IBM, and The ONE Campaign, with a shared goal of making Ghana the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.”

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Submitted by Claire M. Bessinger - Van Graan on March 28, 2014