General News Sun, 1 Jul 2007

African First Ladies target HIV/AIDS

Accra, July 1, GNA - The Organisation of African First Ladies (OAFLA) on Sunday held it first meeting as part of the on-going African Union Summit, with the focus on how to prevent HIV/AIDS.

The Steering Committee meeting which was attended by six First Ladies and technical members deliberated on the action plan for 2006 to 2008 to be adopted at its Fifth General Assembly on Monday. The action plan would champion advocacy and implementation of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme for the 53 member states.

The campaign on Monday's agenda called "Save the Unborn Child First Ladies Campaign" would be subjected to scrutiny and open to proposals on how best to move the campaign by the general assembly forward. Mrs. Naureen Mwanawasa, First Lady of Zambia and President of OAFLA, who chaired the meeting said the cost of treating HIV/AIDS to African governments was high hence the need to focus on prevention. Prevention, she noted, could be spearheaded by OAFLA and therefore called on her fellow first ladies to take a lead role in the fight against HIV/AIDS in their countries.

"We can work at the continental level but there is the need for each of us to focus attention in our individual countries to help reduce the prevalence and work toward the time when children from age zero to 14 would be without AIDS," Mrs Mwanawasa said.

Mrs Theresa Kufuor, Ghana's First Lady, in an interview with the She said on country basis, they worked as NGOs and so had to raise their individual funds for projects targeted at women and children, which included fighting to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. "I am fortunate that I have the Mother to Child Foundation and therefore run OAFLA programmes alongside though I work without a budget. I must be frank and sincere to say that I am not good at raising funds and so I work through the Ghana AIDS Commission," Mrs Kufuor said. On the OAFLA Ghana Chapter she said she had been able to tour the whole country supporting women with skills and vocations as a way of empowerment.

The First Ladies who attended the meeting were from Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Namibia and Burundi. 01 July 07

Source: GNA