The Embassy of the United States, in collaboration with the Togolese Armed Forces (FAT) and the Association of Veterans Affairs Military Friends (AMACACH), organized a three-day refresher workshop highlighting a new protocol for the prevention of HIV-transmission from mothers to children (PMTCT). The opening workshop’s opening ceremony was held March 25 on the premises of the Armed Forces’ School of Health Services (ESSAL). The ceremony was attended by Ms. Dana Banks, the U.S. Embassy’s Chargée d’Affaires, Colonel Wiyaoou Adom, coordinator of the FAT’s HIV / AIDS programs, Lucie Tossou, representing the Director of the Central Army Health Service of Coordinator of AMACACH, and officials of the national PMTCT program.
In her remarks, Ms. Banks said training was crucial to educate participants on reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS to infants, because it would lead to the reduction in the number of AIDS-related deaths: “This approach requires a strong collaboration between health care providers and HIV-positive pregnant mothers, who work together to monitor the mother from the beginning of pregnancy, during delivery, and one to two years after birth to ensure the safety of the child.”
Worldwide, more than eighty thousand HIV-free babies were born in 2012 to HIV-positive mothers thanks to projects such as the PMTCT program. Ms. Banks noted the U.S. government contributed to PMTCT programs across the globe and highlighted recent successes of Togo: “Here in Togo in the last two years, the program has directly supported the care of 50 HIV-positive mothers throughout their pregnancies, leading to 51 HIV-negative newborns in 2013, and 50 HIV-negative newborns in 2014. The program has had a 100% success rate for all patients involved. I am pleased to announce that additional funding has enabled the program to expand to 150 mothers this year.”
Over the past five years, the Embassy of the United States, through the State Department’s HIV/AIDS prevention program known as the DHAPP, has actively supported the Togolese Army to prevent and manage HIV/AIDS cases in the military, providing funding in the amount of $300,000 per year. One third of DHAPP’s support for the Togolese Army’s HIV/AIDS prevention program goes to the mother-to-child transmission prevention program. The workshop is run by thirty service providers, including doctors, nurses and midwives. In 2015, the Association recorded a total of one hundred fifty HIV-positive pregnant women in its program with the goal of helping to give birth to healthy children, not carriers of the HIV/AIDS virus. The training will enable providers to be well equipped in all stages of care and treatment to be given to women and their children in order to prevent viral infection.