President John Mahama of Ghana is rallying support from African governments for African First Ladies in their fight against HIV and AIDS.
Opening the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights (ACSHR) in Accra last week, the President said previously the first ladies of Africa did a lot of good work but that was on the individual levels.
African presidents, he said, were, therefore, lucky to have their wives come together to support their husbands and governments battle the deadly disease on a common front.
The three-day conference is being hosted by Curios Minds, a youth group, with support from UNFPA under the auspices of the African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), which has Ghana’s First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama, as President.
It is on the theme, “Harnessing the demographic dividend: the critical importance of adolescents and youth sexual and reproductive health rights.”
As one of the major continental conferences being held just after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the first ladies are using the forum to challenge themselves to make 2016 a year in which they would advance efforts towards accelerating the progress of the continent with particular emphasis on improved health of the people.
The conference discussed prevention and elimination of HIV and AIDS, reduction of maternal and infant mortality, elimination of child and forced marriage, and reduction of teenage pregnancies on the continent.
In a welcome address, Mrs Mahama, emphasized the benefits of a well-informed and educated population, adding, “It is a catalyst for progress and prosperity.”
“We, therefore, need a core of young people who are educated, confident, innovative, business-minded development-oriented and healthy,” she added.
Mrs Mahama, who is also the President of OAFLA, hailed the progress made under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the areas of maternal mortality reduction, improving child survival, reduction of HIV and AIDS, female empowerment and access to education.
But, she mentioned two new targets – the Africa Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to which she called for greater attention towards the achievement of the 17 global goals.
She stressed the need for massive investment in Africa’s youth as that was one sure way of achieving a better future for the continent and its people.