The First Lady and Minister for Karamoja Affairs Mrs. Janet Museveni has lauded her counterparts the African First Ladies for refusing to give up on the battle against HIV/AIDS.
“I thank the First Ladies of Africa for not giving up the battle against AIDS. We must not be complacent with the current advances in development. With the partnership of UNAIDS and other partners, and the involvement of leaders and parents, we can achieve an AIDS-free generation in Uganda and Africa generally speaking”, she said.
She said the battle on HIV/AIDS has no room for complacency because it makes people give up and efforts are returned to square one as it was the case for Uganda which she said had managed to reduce the HIV prevalence rates, but due to complacency at the advent of anti retroviral drugs, it shot up again.
Mrs. Janet Museveni was speaking at a high-level event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday 28th September 2015 during which the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) endorsed the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and pledged to redouble their efforts to help ensure a safe and healthy future for women, children and young people.
The meeting brought together First Ladies from across the continent, as well as heads of UN agencies and major international donors, to explore how the SDGs will tackle the ‘unfinished business’ of the Millennium Development Goals.
During the round table meeting, Mrs Janet Museveni said Uganda has put emphasis on the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (PMTCT) which gives the impetus to see a free HIV /AIDS generation. “If all children are born HIV/AIDS free, then we have chance of getting an HIV/AIDS free generation”, she added.
She reported that OAFLA- Uganda Chapter also works with the adolescents and teenagers and is engaging the communities to mobilize the families to efficiently play their roles and join in championing the end of early marriages and teenage pregnancies which is still a big challenge in Uganda.
“This double pronged approach will enable us make an impact in stopping new HIV infections among children and their mothers and ending the AIDS epidemic. We can defeat HIV/AIDS. Other countries have done it and so can Africa”, she emphasized.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé attributed the success being witnessed in the reduction of HIV/AIDS infections and prevalence rates in many African countries to the efforts of the First Ladies and saluted them for initiating the various interventions that have enabled these achievements in their respective countries. Under their Organization OAFLA, the African First Ladies have contributed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on HIV/AIDS and Maternal and Neonatal Child Health.
He requested them to also champion the All In movement that targets to reduce HIV infections in adolescents by 40%.
The UNAIDS chief lauded Mrs. Janet Museveni for having been one of the First Ladies to join the advocacy for HIV/AIDS issues across the globe and for also going around mobilizing the communities to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS at the outset.
Mrs. Museveni and other First Ladies at the meeting were also commended for the remarkable work they do to advocate for the prioritization of issues of women, children and adolescents under their Organization OAFLA.
Representatives from UNFPA, PEPFAR, and the AU Commission also addressed the Round table meeting.
In their communiqué, the First Ladies reaffirmed their commitment to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and keeping mothers alive by championing the end of early marriage and adolescent pregnancy, improving access to HIV services and ensuring that all children diagnosed with HIV receive treatment.
OAFLA members also committed to end new HIV infections among young women and adolescent girls and ensure that AIDS is no longer the leading cause of death among adolescents by championing the All In initiative. These commitments are expected to be key priority areas of implementation for 2015 and 2016 by OAFLA member states and their partners.
Earlier on 25th September, Mrs. Janet Museveni also attended a UNAIDS meeting hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and President Peter Mutharika of Malawi which discussed the ‘Action Implementation of Ending the AIDS Epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The First Lady was accompanied to the two meetings by the OAFLA–Uganda Chapter Board Chairman Jotham Musinguzi and Executive Director Mrs. Beat Bisangwa.