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African Union's roadmap on elimination of HIV transmission from mother to child, presented at panel discussion on World AIDS Day

By African Union Commission (AUC)
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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 5, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- A Panel Discussion on the African Plan to eliminate Mother to Child HIV Transmissions took place yesterday, Thursday, 1st December 2011, within the framework of World AIDS Day commemoration at the Headquarters of the African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Organized by the Social Affairs Department of the African Union Commission (AUC), the Panel Discussion was chaired by Professor Jean Pierre Onvehoun Ezin, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST) of the AU, on behalf of the AUC Chairperson Dr. Jean Ping, and moderated by Advocate Bience Gawanas, Commissioner for Social Affairs of the AU.

Other key note speakers at the opening ceremony was Ms. Jan Beagle, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS and Mrs. Toko, representing the UNECA Executive Secretary.

Mrs. Akila Belembaogo, UNICEF Representative to the AU & ECA ; Mme. Consolée Kamaro, Civil Society Organisation, Burundi and Ambassador Michael A. Battle of the United States Mission to the African Union (USAU), were amongst the resource persons at the panel discussion.

Speaking on behalf of the Chairperson of the AUC, Dr. Jean Ping, and Commissioner Ezin underlined that the commemoration of World AIDS Day offered an opportunity to increase awareness HIV/AIDS. Commissioner Ezin emphasized the need for concerted efforts, as the pandemic cannot be fought individually. He further stated that the pandemic is not only a major health crisis but also a threat to Africa's impoverished, social cohesion, political stability and food security. The Commissioner underscored the need for mobilizing existing resources and application of prevention strategies to stop and reverse the effect of the HIV/AIDS on African countries. (see complete speech on AU Website: www.au.int ).

Commissioner Gawanas on her part expressed appreciation to the continuous support of the stakeholders for their efforts in ensuring the goal of Zero Mother to Child Transmissions. Commissioner Gawanas underlined the importance of the African Action Plan to be introduced in the discussions, “it is important that we have an African context to the UN's Global Plan to eliminate mother to child transmissions.... It is possible that children can be born from HIV Positive parents without being positive”. She stated.

« In order to attain the “3 Zeros”, everyone has a role to play by promoting universal access to prevention, treatment which is now more affordable even at individual level, as well as care and support” the Commissioner underscored, adding that, “expressing empathy and solidarity with those in need is very useful in the hour of need ». (see complete speech on AU Website: www.au.int ).

Addressing participants, UNAIDS Deputy Director Executive Ms. Beagle stated that global solidarity is needed to address multi-sectoral challenges. She recalled the AID for AIDS movement that led to the reduction of medicine anti-retroviral drugs transform the landscape of health and development. Ms. Beagle further noted that the aids response has helped to reposition the agenda for global health, human rights and social justice while highlighting that it is imperative to increase access to services for marginalized groups in particular. “The millennium development goals cannot be considered separately but they can only be achieved in concert” stated the UNAIDS Deputy Director Executive. Ms. Beagle called upon leaders, communities, people living with HIV, young people to look forward and work towards a world with Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths.

Madam Toko, a representative of the ECA, read the message of Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA. She stated the importance of paying greater attention to the young people of the continent and protecting youth by intensifying HIV prevention strategies. Mme. Toko underlined reiterated the ECA's Commitment to continue engaging and supporting initiatives that will lead to the mitigation and elimination of HIV.

Meanwhile, presentations on the theme: “Getting to Zero” as well as the achievements of the AU in the area of HIV-AIDS were done by officials of the Department of Social Affairs.

Present at the Panel Discussion were representatives of the diplomatic corps, Staff of the African Union Commission; AU Member States; International Organisation; UN Agencies; Civil Society; NGOs dealing with HIV-AIDs; and other invited guests.

For Further Information consult the AU website: www.au.int