First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s consistent leadership towards the elimination of mother-to-child transmission (eMTCT) of the HIV virus has been praised at the AIDS summit in Amsterdam.
Various global leaders paid glowing tributes to the Kenyan First Lady for her passion, diligence, resilience and steadfast commitment in her efforts towards zero MTCT and new HIV/Aids infections among adolescents.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe and US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Deputy Coordinator for Multi-sector responsibility and Diplomacy Dr. Mamadi Yilla led other leaders in praising the First Lady for her efforts to significantly reduce the spread of Aids among mothers, babies and the youth.
They acknowledged that the Beyond Zero platform has been a very pragmatic and effective enabler for the First Lady’s work in the control of HIV/AIDS.
The leaders spoke during a satellite session at the AIDS Global Summit in Amsterdam Tuesday evening where they also requested the First Lady to use her successful Kenyan approach and experience to re-invigorate the necessary momentum to stop new MTCT in Africa.
Ms Mamadi said Kenya is a trendsetter in the journey towards eMTCT in Africa.
“You have been an inspiring champion to women and girls, not only in Kenya but other countries. Your humility is also exemplary,” the UNAIDS boss told the First Lady who delivered a keynote address on leadership and innovation for results in eMTCT and adolescent care.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) Charles Lyons proposed that the Kenyan success story on eMTCT should be replicated elsewhere in Africa.
Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council (NACC) board chair Ms Angeline Siparo said the significant milestones that Kenya has made in the eMTCT journey were largely dependent on leadership and political commitment.
She said Kenya aspires to completely eliminate MTCT by 2021 and join the 10 countries with zero mother-to-child HIV transmissions across the world.
On her part, the First Lady said committed leadership driven by clear targets creates a ripple effect where individuals, communities and institutions re-organize themselves in strategic partnerships across different sectors.
She called for home grown solutions, supported by local philanthropists as the best approach in health financing challenges especially on matters of HIV/AIDS control.
“We must address resource allocation and appropriate people-centred interventions that will effectively meet the needs of our target populations,” she said
The First Lady said there is a worrying trend of increased HIV infections among adolescents, especially young women.
“The challenges of some of the efforts made, for women especially, means that our investments in eMTCT may be wiped out in two decades”, said the Kenyan First Lady who used a short video-clip to powerfully amplify the message of Beyond Zero’s five-year journey.
The First Lady underscored the need to pay closer attention to the right approach to communicate to the youth on HIV/AIDS matters adding that factors driving the epidemic such as sexual violence, poverty and gender inequality must be addressed to sustain the current momentum to halt the scourge.
AIDS2018 Conference, held at the Rai International Convention Centre, is the world’s largest meeting on a single global health issue.
It is being attended by over 15,000 researchers, activists, policy makers, doctors and members of the legal fraternity representing over 160 countries.
The Kenyan delegation which is led by the First Lady and the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) for Health Dr. Rashid Aman is facilitating several sessions at the conference.
Kenya is also among the over 200 exhibitors at the Rai International Convention centre’s global village where information about the country’s campaign against HIV/AIDS is available.