First Lady, Oluremi Tinubu, has stated that the fight against HIV/AIDS can only be won with the active involvement of leaders of various communities.
She spoke in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, at the commemoration of the Year 2023 World AIDS Day with the theme, “Let Communities Lead”.
According to a statement by her media aide, Busola Kukoyi, the gathering was organised by the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Auxillia Mnangagwa, ahead of the 22nd edition of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa.
Senator Tinubu decried the recent statistics released by UNAIDS ,which revealed that in the year 2022, there were about 1.5 million new infections and the African continent accounted for two-thirds of the figure.
“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 Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OFLAD) would be having a preconference high level meeting on the 2nd 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 stated.
The First Lady urged various community leaders, especially traditional rulers, religious leaders, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs), among others, who have 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,” she added.
In her address, the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Auxillia 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.
According to her, there was a 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.
There were presentations by various Zimbabwean artists to drive home the need for enhanced community involvement in the fight against the pandemic.
Mrs Tinubu arrived in Zimbabwe on Thursday for the ICASA pre-conference high-level meeting by the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OFLAD), starting on December 2, 2023 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
The meeting has as its theme, “Addressing the Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission and the Elimination of Newborn Infections in Africa.”