First Lady Margaret Kenyatta joined sixteen African First Ladies for the opening Plenary Session of the 20th Ordinary General Assembly of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA) at the African Union Complex.
Kenya’s First Lady, together with her counterparts from Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Benin, Central Republic of Africa, Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Comoros were received by the Chair of the General Assembly, the First Lady of Ethiopia, Her Excellency Roman Tesfye, who was elected President of OAFLA in 2017.
Central to the agenda under discussion during OAFLA’s 20th General Assembly is the focus of African countries in meeting HIV infection reduction global targets ahead of 2020. The African Union has put forward a joint position – the Common Africa Position (CAP) – that encourages member states to achieve the ambitious target through integrating HIV and Mothers Health and Child Health (MNCH) services. These include early infant diagnosis, point of care diagnosis for expectant mothers and adopting innovative systems to track mother and babies through care givers and antenatal visits, among other investments.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has been recognised for her role in combating new HIV infections, her campaign to keep mothers alive through her Beyond Zero Initiative and the mobile clinics which are used to strengthen outreach and referral systems countrywide. The mobile clinics offer a range of services including immunization, maternal health services – ANC/PMTCT, HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC) and cervical cancer screening, amongst others.
Other African First Ladies have also played an important role in building awareness and influencing policy commitment to support the fight against HIV and AIDS.