8 February 2013

African First Ladies' Anti-AIDS Crusade

First ladies the world over are not mere human decorations of state houses; they are valuable assets to their peoples and countries. In Africa, fraught with poverty and conflict, the observation has become increasingly true. Now on the continent, they are flowing fresh grounds, combining forces against the pandemic known as HIV/AIDS, as The Analyst reports.

The Organization of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA) came together on 28 January to mark its 10-year anniversary held at its annual Extra Ordinary General Assembly on the side-lines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé attended the anniversary luncheon and congratulated the organization for its contribution to the AIDS response.

OAFLA was established in 2002 by 37 First Ladies from Africa committed to take action against AIDS and improve the lives of women, young people and children. Women account for 58% of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

The First Ladies of Africa, together with national partners have launched many high impact campaigns, including 'FLAME' which kicked off in 2011 in nine countries to promote the virtual elimination of new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive.

Led by the First Lady of Namibia, Penehupifo Pohamba, OAFLA currently has 40 First Ladies from the continent as signatories to the organization.

"As we are celebrating, we are as well commemorating the decade of a long story, where millions of lives were lost, families destroyed and nations shaken," said the President of OAFLA and First Lady of Namibia, PenehupifoPohamba.

"This is a celebration of hope for a new era and a new generation, which will be free of the HIV virus among new born babies," First Ladies have influenced the political dialogue in their countries with excellent results.

Also speaking at the anniversary ceremonies, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said "Few can ever have the impact of OAFLA and we count you as a critical partner today and the future."

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