Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS calls upon All Stakeholders to Unite and Ensure Healthy Lives for All the People of Africa
The Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) held its 16th General Assembly from 30 to 31January 2016 under the theme “Advancing sustainable Partnership to end pediatric AIDS and improve Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights”.
In the course of the meeting it was reported that many Member States have made great strides in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, less progress has been made in scaling —up HIV diagnosis, care, support and treatment among children. It was made clear that there is no targeted care for HIV positive children as they transition into adolescence. “AIDS has become the leading cause of death among adolescents (aged 10-19) in Africa and the second most common cause of death among adolescents globally”, noted one of the organizers. AIDS related deaths are declining in all age groups, except among 10-19 year olds. It was reported that new HIV infections among adolescents are not declining as quickly as among other age groups. Adolescent girls, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa are the most affected.
H.E. Mrs. Roman Tesfaye, First Lady of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) welcomed all the First Ladies to Addis Ababa and thanked them for their active participation to the 16thOAFLA General Assembly. In her welcome remarks the First Lady of Ethiopia explained that several campaigns, forums and advocacy works were performed to achieve OAFLA Goals in terms of HIV/AIDS prevention, cancer prevention, treatment and diagnosis along with other major priority areas that OAFLA stands for. “Despite the considerable achievements in reduction of preventable deaths in our continent, the unfolded facts and figures still show that much is needed to be done in exploring ways and means through joint support to encourage the responses as well as country ownerships of immunization programs while advocating towards universal access to reproductive health services.” She added.
H.E Dr. Mustapha Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union informed the OAFLA General Assembly that, the AU Commission has facilitated the process of developing an African specific plan that has domesticated a global plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015. Dr. Kaloko underlined that the African Union and OAFLA, together, have what it takes to eliminate new HIV infections and keep mothers alive by 2030. Concretizing his aspirations he said: 'This meeting takes place at a critical juncture when Africa has started to implement its long-term development strategy, Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Meanwhile, the OAFLA signed two Memoranda of Understanding with WHO and AMREF. In her opening statement H. E. Dr. Nana Lordina Dramani Mahama, First Lady of the Republic of Ghana and President of the OAFLA, referred to the theme of the session as embodiment of OAFLA's belief that long-standing gains can only be achieved through sustainable partnerships. Relaying the challenges faced the Chairperson said: 'Indeed, the journey to end pediatric AIDS and improve Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Right poses challenges including a lack of resource, inadequate capacity, poor commodity, security, and some unfavorable laws and policies'. To address these impediments, H.E. Dr. Mahama emphasized that there is a need to prioritize resources and improve the capacity of relevant stakeholders required to make this vision a reality.
The African First Ladies, members of the OAFLA, adopted a communiqué calling on all Member States of the African Union, the Heads of State, the Ministers of Health, Finance, State, Social Affairs and Local Government Leaders, Community Leaders, Traditional and Religious Leaders, the Media, and Civil Society Organizations to unite and ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being of all the people of Africa, irrespective of age, sex and geographical location.
Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) was established by African First Ladies as a collective voice for Africa's most vulnerable people, women and children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. Today, OAFLA has more than forty (40)African First Ladies as its active members, each leading her national chapter to do exemplary work in the areas of HIV/AIDS, empowering women and children.