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

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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A musical mission

The Yale Percussion Group (YPG) and Yale Concert Band (YCB) are travelling to Ghana May 20–June 1 for 12 days of cultural exchange, musical research, and community service. 

One of the highlights of the trip will be a concert to benefit the Ghana-Yale Partnership for Global Health, which is working towards the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Ghana.

APresident John Dramani Mahama is expected to be represented at the performance — conducted by Thomas C. Duffy, director of Yale Bands — on Friday, May 23 at 8 p.m. at the National Theatre in Accra. Musicians from the YCB and YPG will perform alongside the National Symphony Orchestra of Ghana; two pieces will include Ghanaian drummers.

While in Ghana, the percussionists and members of the YCB will also study, perform, and record traditional drumming and dance pieces with Ghanaian master drummers. There will be “unity” concerts at two universities, and the groups will undertake service projects in the village of Yamoransa, with which Yale has an ongoing relationship.

Tickets for the May 23 benefit concert are available at several locations, including the National Theatre box office, the Yale Alumni Club, the University of Ghana Department of Music, and at the door. The price is 100 GH ($35 US) for VIP tickets; 30 GH ($10 US) for adults; and 10 GH ($3.50) for students.