Lilongwe — UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations ,Ms Jan Beagle Tuesday hailed Malawi's First Lady, Gertrude Mutharika for taking a leading role in the fight against cervical cancer among girls and women.
Beagle made the remarks at Kamuzu place in Lilongwe in a meeting the two held aimed at finding ways on how they could scale up efforts to fight against HIV and AIDs as well as cervical cancer, the diseases that have claimed lives of many people particularly women.
"I am aware of the many programmes that you, your Excellency is carrying out especially those concerned with girls and women. Through you, I am confident that we can achieve a lot.
"To this end, as UNAIDS we would like to first congratulate you for the role well played and promise to continue supporting you in the fight against HIV and AIDs," Beagle said.
The UNAIDs reminded the first lady that as Vice President of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDs (OAFLA) she has a huge task to perform in eradicating HIV and AIDs, cervical cancer and other communicable diseases.
"To end HIV and AIDs and other diseases is a matter of political commitment, integrated as well as evidence based approaches," she said.
Mutharika said, from the time she ascended to the position of Vice President of OAFLA,she has managed to mobilised resources for Point of Care Machines for Early Infant Diagnosis and dual HIV and syphilis test kits; conduct variousinteractions with young people living with HIV, (including one here at State House); launched a stop cervical cancer campaign, urging women (especially those living with HIV) to utilise cervical cancer screening services andaired messages on TV, radio and in print media, to step up demand for services.
"There are a lot of programmes we are implementing and given the necessary support we hope to eliminate, cervical cancer, HIV and aids and all communicable diseases," the first lady explained.
She added, "I am pleased to meet with you today to discuss important issues pertaining to the HIV and AIDS response in Malawi, the global agenda and how it affects our local response. With the support of UNAIDS at all levels and other partners, Malawi has achieved tremendous results in the HIV response, which are acknowledged globally."
Mutharika said her focus is on mothers, the youth and the adolescent girls who have for many years been left out.
"Evidence informs us that some areas and population groups are disproportionately affected by HIV. For example, Adolescent girls have a much higher HIV prevalence than boys of their age; I am particularly disturbed that we are leaving children behind in the response," said Mutharika.