he Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) has mobilised financial resources amounting to US$300,000 from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Addressing the Extra-ordinary Annual General Meeting at the African Union headquarters on the theme “Curbing The Spread of HIV/AIDS’’One Mother at a Time,” in Addis Ababa yesterday, First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa who is OAFLA Chairperson hoped the funds would soon be transferred to the OAFLA account to enable the organisation to put the money to use quickly.
The gathering included United Nations Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa Elizabeth Mataka, UNAIDS Deputy Director Deborah Landey and other distinguished representatives.
Mrs Mwanawasa expressed gratitude to the First Ladies on the continent for their continued support towards the attianment of OAFLA’s goals.
Mrs Mwanawasa however said the organisation has been unable to implement many of its planned activities under the Strategic Plan because of financial constraints.
On HIV/AIDS, the First Lady said in order to stem the tide of the pandemic, there was need to put African women at the centre of HIV/AIDS interventions.
She noted that this is especially relevant as women comprise 51 per cent of the population and gave birth to the remaining 49 per cent.
Mrs Mwanawasa said it was common knowledge that in Africa, HIV/AIDS carries the face of a woman adding that women all over the continent are dedicating their lives to caring for the sick.
She stressed the importance of developing a holistic approach for the African woman that covers broadening access to financial resources, improving health and education, reducing the amount of time that women spend on domestic errands such as fetching water.
At the same meeting, Mrs Mataka urged the African First Ladies to continue uniting Africa through the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Mrs Mataka advised OAFLA to ensure the establishment of more income generating activities for women.
And in her welcoming remarks, Ethiopian First Lady who is also OAFLA’s Vice Chairperson Azeb Mesfin, said African First Ladies had a big task in the fight against HIV/AIDS on the continent.
She said there was need to create awareness on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the African women and observed that women and children were mostly hit by the pandemic.
OAFLA had its last annual General meeting in Accra, Ghana in July 2007 and some of the issues contained in the organisation’s action plan include prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT), promotion of use of microbicides and female condom, initiation of programmes to provide nutritional food for People Living with HIV/AIDS