The First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu has said that the fight against HIV/AIDS can only be won with the active involvement of leaders of various communities.
At the commemoration of this year’s World AIDS Day in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, which has the theme, ‘Let Communities Lead’, Mrs Tinubu decried the recent statistics released by the UNAIDS, which revealed that last year recorded about 1.5 million new infections with Africa accounting for two thirds of the figure.
She said: “For decades, the global response to HIV/AIDS has been driven by governments, international organizations, and healthcare professionals. While their efforts have been commendable, it is time to recognize the pivotal role that communities play in shaping the response to this epidemic. Communities should be at the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS, and their leadership is crucial in achieving our goals of prevention, treatment, and support.
The Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OFLAD), would be having a preconference high level meeting on the second of December under the theme, ‘Addressing the Elimination of Mother to-Child Transmission and the Elimination of Newborn Infections in Africa’ with the purpose of sharing experiences from our various nations, providing recommendations, devising strategies to achieve the all-encompassing goal of eliminating Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV on the African continent”.
She urged various community leaders, especially traditional rulers, religious leaders, Non-Governmental Organisations, and Community Based Organisations, among others, who had led the fight in the past, to intensify their efforts so that the target of eradicating the pandemic by 2030 can be met.
“We are Africans. We are known for our resilience and tenacity. We must not give up. This we can do and we must do”, Mrs. Tinubu said.
The gathering, which was organised by the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Dr. Auxillia Mnangagwa ahead of the 22nd edition of the International Conference on AIDS and STI in Africa (ICASA), had participants from the United Nations and other sister agencies speak about the need to scale up advocacy and education about the pandemic.
Mnangagwa took time to admonish the participants about the dangers of premarital sex, unwholesome medical practices, youth and adolescents’ vices that escalate the transmission of the disease, eradication of stigmatization, knowing one’s status and the need to seek help early.
She spoke on the need to stop the blame game between the men and the women and concentrate more on coming together to put an end to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Various Zimbabwean artistes made presentations to drive home the need for enhanced community involvement in the fight against the pandemic.
Nigeria’s First Lady arrived Zimbabwe on Thursday for the ICASA pre-conference high level meeting by OFLAD starting on Saturday.