Addis Ababa, 04 July 2017 - Yesterday, the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OFLA) had their 19th ordinary general assembly meeting in the plenary hall of the African Union commission Old building which brings together first ladies of 13 countries, the African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs and OFLA partners including World Health Organization. The theme of the Assembly is “Building on 15 years of engagement to harness the demographic dividend of Africa through promoting the needs of adolescents and their access to youth-friendly health services.”
Her Excellence Mrs Roman Tesfaye, First Lady of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and chairperson of OFLA on her welcoming remark at the opening session of the assembly said “Investing in the needs of Africa’s youth that constitutes 37% of the working age population is the most critical requirement towards reaping the fruits of Africa’s demographic dividend.” She added “Now, more than ever we should boost our investment in health and socioeconomic development of youth including ensuring access to youth friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services to markedly reduce new HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases as well as unwanted pregnancy which affect education, skill development and employment opportunities of African youth and particularly adolescent girls.” H.E. Mrs Roman concluded her remark by acknowledging the OFLA strategic partners for their continued support to accelerate the national and continental efforts of harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend.
H.E. Mrs Hinda Deby Itno First Lady of the Republic of Chad who delivered the opening statement congratulated the first ladies of Africa for fighting against HIV AIDS, child mortality and protecting adolescence and youth. “The first ladies in Africa paid capital role in sensitizing people in ensuring their commitment so as to develop the effort against HIV AIDS.” she added. H.E. Mrs Hinda also noted that the support and assistance of the different partners of OAFLA will help to address all the challenges that the organization faces and express her gratitude to the partners for their invaluable contributions and urge them to continue their support in a sustained and decisive manner.”
Two sessions of dialogue between First Ladies and partners were held. Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Africa Regional Director, participated in the first dialogue on the responsibility of health and education leaders, family and community leaders in ensuring adolescents’ access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. Dr Moeti said “Firstly I am honored to be part of this dialogue and secondly, I am thankful and am full of admiration for the leadership of African First Ladies. I am very excited by partnership that WHO in the Africa Region has with OFLA. Your leadership is starting to make a difference, but there is much to be done.”
Dr Moeti added that “As an entity that has to develop national policies and monitor disease transmission, we are committed to working with you and other partners to support documentation and dissemination of these experiences and initiatives that the first ladies are sharing here.”