During the high-level week of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, leading African health ministers joined UNAIDS, PEPFAR, global health institutions and their partners in New York to uphold their commitments to end AIDS and accelerate its response to current and future problems.
The high-level side event on “Political Leadership in the Response to HIV” highlighted continued progress in the fight against HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, which has largely been sustained despite additional challenges from the COVID pandemic.
Ambassador Dr. John Nkengasong, US Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Health Diplomacy, celebrating his 100th day in office, said: “The response to HIV has defined global health for 25 years.
We have made remarkable progress, but we still have notable challenges in ending AIDS.
It's time to ask where we go from here.
PEPFAR, the Global Fund and UNAIDS represent the best of humanity when we apply our minds to solve problems.” Ambassador Nkengasong also used the opportunity to launch "Reimagining PEPFAR's Strategic Direction, Delivering on America's Promise to End the HIV/AIDS Pandemic by 2030," which focuses on key priority areas including: health equity for priority populations, including children, adolescent girls and young women, and key populations; long-term sustainability; position platforms so that civil society is not front and center; and leading with science.
“Our work continues with renewed urgency to accelerate our drive to end AIDS by 2030,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS.
“The actions needed to end AIDS are also key to overcoming other pandemics and protecting ourselves from future threats.
We can end AIDS by 2030.
But the curve will not bend on its own, we have to bring it down together.” African governments were represented by the Ministers of Health of Botswana, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Malawi, Rwanda and South Africa, and the Director of Public Health of Nigeria, speaking on behalf of HE President Buhari, and They were joined by HE Neo Jane Masisi, the First Lady of Botswana.
DRC Minister of Health Jean-Jacques Mbungani said: “Despite our many challenges, the Government made the fight against HIV a national priority.
In one year, we increased our national funding for HIV from CDF10 billion to CDF15 billion, and from 2002 to 2020, we reduced AIDS-related mortality by 42%.” The Minister of Health of Côte d'Ivoire, Mr. Pierre Dimba, highlighted the importance of integrating the lessons of COVID-19 into the response to HIV.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it is to invest in health and improve our approach to HIV,” said Minister Dimba.
“We have strengthened our health systems and are reinforcing our network of community health workers to reach those most in need, as well as working closely with the education sector.” Rwanda has been investing in institutional reforms in the health sector and continues to increase its own national financing for health.
“For effective management of national resources, we created the Rwanda Biomedical Center, which has a multifaceted approach,” said Daniel Ngamije, Rwanda's Minister of Health.
“Instead of having individual programs for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, we have created and funded an integrated and sustainable system.” Senator Lizzie Nkosi, Eswatini's Minister of Health, expressed her appreciation for partnering with donors and technical partners as key to the country's success in responding to HIV.
Minister Nkosi used the event to announce impressive new results in Eswatini's efforts to end AIDS.
"Today I am announcing that Eswatini has achieved epidemic control and the 95-95-95 targets," Minister Nkosi said.
“We have committed significant resources to HIV, which we will continue, despite COVID-19 and other pandemics.
However, we could not have achieved this success without PEPFAR, UNAIDS, the Global Fund and many other partners.” The Botswana Minister of Health highlighted the remarkable results that Botswana has achieved and acknowledged the continued strong support of partners in Botswana's progress in ending AIDS.
“The partners have contributed a lot to our achievements.
At first, our population was on the verge of being wiped out by HIV, but last year we celebrated exceeding the 95-95-95 targets; that would not have been possible without sustained political leadership at the highest level and the long-term partnerships to have,” Minister Dikoloti said.
From South Africa, the country with the world's largest HIV epidemic, Health Minister Joe Phaahla called for an accelerated push to end AIDS and the urgency of stopping the incidence of HIV, particularly among young people in South Africa.
“We have reduced HIV incidence by more than 45%, now have 5.2 million people on HIV treatment, and launched our HIV strategy with a focus on young people,” said Minister Phaahla.
“Going forward, our focus will be on program integration, lessons we have learned through COVID and HIV.
When under pressure to save lives, our key is integration: political leadership to mobilize leaders across sectors, health workers and community health workers, bringing them on board and keeping the momentum going.” Reading a statement from His Excellency President Buhari of Nigeria, Dr. Morenike Alex-Okah, Nigeria's Director of Public Health, highlighted the call to end pediatric AIDS: “I reiterate the Nigerian Government's full commitment to the Goals.
Sustainable Development and other international and regional initiatives.
to end AIDS by 2030 and address current and future health emergencies.
As a show of commitment, my government will convene African leaders and our international partners in Abuja in November 2022 to launch the Global Alliance to End Pediatric AIDS by 2025.” Loyce Maturu from the Global Fund Advocates Network in Zimbabwe spoke about the gaps in the response to HIV.
“We know that we have not done enough to manage HIV in children and to prevent HIV among adolescent girls and young women.
We need to look at psychosocial support, mental health, and viral load monitoring, which have been lacking when it comes to community engagement.
We need to focus on managing HIV at the community level, empowering community-led monitoring, supporting families and strengthening community systems.” Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, expressed his appreciation for the support of the Global Fund in its 7th Replenishment, which mobilized US$14.2 billion: “This is a great opportunity to thank all those who pledged contributions to the Global Fund, and in particular the implementing countries which have increased tremendously,” said Mr. Sands.
“One of the great strengths of the HIV response was its relentless focus on results, saving lives and reducing infections.
One of the things we learned from COVID is that we need to be smart about making investments that can meet multiple needs at once.
A broader approach to health systems that can combat multiple diseases and deal with future threats."
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, regional director for Africa at the World Health Organization, highlighted the need for governments to step up the pace to end AIDS in Africa.
“This is a fantastic gathering of leaders who will play a key role in ending AIDS in Africa,” said Dr. Moeti.
“With HIV, we have learned many lessons.
Inequalities continue to be a major factor in generating vulnerability to HIV and access to services.
We can make resources go further and achieve more results for HIV.” Stéphanie Seydoux, French Ambassador for Global Health, concluded: “The time for implementation starts now.
We know the path to follow and that is the country's property, the country's investment”.
The event, “Political Leadership in the Response to HIV”, was co-hosted by UNAIDS and PEPFAR on the sidelines of the high-level week of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Video of the event is available at: UNAIDS/PEPFAR High-Level Side Event.
Education has been the "guide and touchstone" of Secretary-General António Guterres, he said on Monday, the last day of the Transforming Education Summit, warning that he is in "a deep crisis."
“I consider myself a lifelong student…Without education, where would I be?
Where would any of us be?” he asked those gathered in the iconic General Assembly Hall. Because education transforms lives, economies and societies, “we must transform education”.
Downward Spiral Rather than being the great enabler, the UN chief noted that education is fast becoming "a great divider," noting that some 70 percent of 10-year-olds in poor countries don't know read and "barely learn".
With access to the best resources, schools and universities, the rich get the best jobs, while the poor, especially girls, displaced people and students with disabilities face enormous obstacles in obtaining the qualifications that could change their lives, he continued.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has "dealt a heavy blow to progress on SDG4," the Sustainable Development Goal that targets equitable and quality education.
"But the crisis in education began much earlier, and is much deeper," Guterres added, citing the report by the International Commission on the Future of Education, which clearly stated: "Education systems are failing."
Grade suspension Relying on outdated and narrow curricula, poorly trained and underpaid teachers, and rote learning, he argued that "education is failing students and societies."
At the same time, the digital divide penalizes poor students, as the education funding gap "gets bigger than ever."
"Now is the time to transform education systems," stressed the UN chief.
21st Century Vision With a new vision for 21st century education taking shape, he noted that quality learning must support the development of the individual learner throughout their lives.
“It should help people learn how to learn, with a focus on problem solving and collaboration...provide the foundation for learning, from reading, writing, and math to science, digital, social, and emotional skills...
develop students' ability to adapt to the rapidly changing world of work…[and] be accessible to everyone from the earliest stages and throughout their lives”.
At a time of rampant misinformation, climate denial and attacks on human rights, Mr. Guterres emphasized the need for education systems that “separate fact from conspiracy, instill respect for science and celebrate humanity in all its diversity.” ”.
From vision to reality To make the vision a reality, he outlined five areas of commitment that start with protecting the right to quality education for everyone, everywhere, especially girls and people in crisis.
Emphasizing that schools must be open to all, without discrimination, he called on the Taliban in Afghanistan: "Lift all restrictions on girls' access to secondary education immediately."
As “the soul of education systems”, Mr. Guterres then called for a new focus on teachers' roles and skill sets to facilitate and promote learning rather than simply conveying answers.
Third, he advocated that schools become "safe and healthy spaces, with no room for violence, stigma or bullying."
To achieve the fourth goal, that the digital revolution benefits all students, he encouraged governments to work with private sector partners to boost digital learning content.
Financial Solidarity “None of this will be possible without increased funding for education and global solidarity,” the UN chief said, presenting his latest priority.
He urged countries to protect education budgets and channel education spending toward learning resources.
“The financing of education must be the number one priority for governments.
It is the most important investment that any country can make in its people and its future”, explained the Secretary General.
"Policy spending and advice must be aligned with delivering quality education for all."
'Global movement' In closing, he stated that the Education Transformation Summit will only achieve its global goals by mobilizing “a global movement”.
“Let us move forward together, so that everyone can learn, thrive and dream throughout their lives.
Let's ensure that today's students and future generations can access the education they need, to create a more sustainable, inclusive, just and peaceful world for all."
War, disease, economic development Catherine Russell, who heads the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) drew attention to the effect of war on children's education and called on governments to "increase support to help all children to learn, wherever they are.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, highlighted the devastating impact of HIV on adolescent girls and young women in Africa, informing participants that in sub-Saharan Africa last year, 4,000 girls became infected every week.
"This is a crisis!" she said.
"Because when a girl is infected at that age, there is no cure for HIV, that marks the rest of her life, her opportunities."
She told the summit that 12 African countries have now committed to Education Plus, a bold initiative to prevent HIV infections through free, universal, quality secondary education for all girls and boys in Africa, reinforced through comprehensive empowerment programs.
Audrey Azoulay, leader of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recalled that "there can be no economic development or peace without education", and stressed that Afghan girls must be able to return to school.
"It's her right," she asserted.
Look here submit your address here.
Other luminaries Other distinguished speakers included UN Messenger of Peace Malala Yousafzai, who called on world leaders to make schools safe for girls and protect every child's right to learn, saying that " if you are serious about creating a safe and sustainable future for children, then be serious about education.” Somaya Faruqi, former captain of the Afghan girls' robotics team, stated that all girls have the right to learn and stated that "While our cousins and brothers sit in classrooms, I and many other girls are forced to put our dreams on hold.
Every girl belongs in school.
" Recently announced UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa Nakate emphasized the need for all children to have access to education, as “their future depends on it".
See her address here.
Another highlight was the moving musical performance by the Ambassador of Good Vo UNICEF's volunteer, Angelique Kidjo, who encouraged everyone to raise their voices to transform education.
130 countries commit to restart education Later in the afternoon, it was announced that more than 130 countries attending the summit pledged to restart their education systems and accelerate action to end the learning crisis The commitments followed of 115 national consultations that brought together leaders, teachers, students, civil society and other partners to collect collective recommendations on the most urgent requests.
Almost half of the countries prioritized measures to address learning loss, while a third of the countries committed to supporting the psychosocial well-being of both students and teachers.
Two out of three countries also mentioned measures to offset direct and indirect costs.
of education for economically vulnerable communities, with 75% of countries underscoring the importance of gender-sensitive education policies in their commitments.
These statements underlined the role of education in achieving all the SDGs and the links to climate shocks, conflict and poverty.
The measures addressed recovering from COVID-19 and getting back on track towards the SDGs, while emphasizing the need for innovations in education to prepare today's students for a rapidly changing world.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres says education transformation is needed for inclusive peace in the world, saying that no society can enjoy peace without education.
Guterres said this on Monday at end of the 3-day Transforming Education Summit organised on the margins of the 77th session of UN General Assembly in New York. “I regard myself as a lifelong student…Without education, where would I be?
Where would any of us be?
,” he asked.
“Because education transforms lives, economies and societies, “we must transform education”.
Instead of being the great enabler, the UN chief pointed out that education is fast becoming “a great divider”, noting that some 70 per cent of 10-year-olds in poor countries are unable to read and are “barely learning”.
According to him, with access to the best resources, schools and universities, the rich get the best jobs, while the poor – especially girls – displaced people, and students with disabilities, face huge obstacles to getting the qualifications that could change their lives.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has “dealt a hammer blow to progress on SDG4”, the Sustainable Development Goal targeting equitable quality education.
“But the education crisis began long before – and runs much deeper,’’ citing the International Commission on the Future of Education report card, which clearly stated: “Education systems don’t make the grade”.
Dependent upon outdated and narrow curricula, under-trained and underpaid teachers, and rote learning, he maintained that “education is failing students and societies”.
At the same time, the digital divide penalises poor students as the education financing gap “yawns wider than ever”.
“Now is the time to transform education systems,” the UN chief said.
With a new 21st century education vision taking shape, he highlighted that quality learning must support the development of the individual learner throughout their life.
To make the vision a reality, he highlighted five commitment areas beginning with protecting the right to quality education for everyone, everywhere – especially girls and those in crisis hotspots.
Emphasising that schools must be open to all, without discrimination, he appealed to the Taliban in Afghanistan: “Lift all restrictions on girls’ access to secondary education immediately”.
As “the lifeblood of education systems,” Guterres next called for a new focus on the roles and skillsets of teachers to facilitate and promote learning rather than merely transmitting answers.
Third, he advocated for schools to become “safe, healthy spaces, with no place for violence, stigma or intimidation”.
To achieve the fourth target, that the digital revolution benefits all learners, he encouraged governments to work with private sector partners to boost digital learning content.
“None of this will be possible without a surge in education financing and global solidarity,” the UN chief said, introducing his final priority.
He urged countries to protect education budgets and funnel education spending into learning resources.
“Education financing must be the number one priority for Governments.
It is the single most important investment any country can make in its people and its future.
“Spending and policy advice should be aligned with delivering quality education for all,” the secretary-general said.
Meanwhile, Catherine Russell, who heads the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) drew attention to the effect of war on children’s education, calling on governments to “scale up support to help every child learn, wherever they are”.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, highlighted the devastating impact of HIV on adolescent girls and young women in Africa, informing the participants that in sub-Saharan Africa last year, 4,000 girls had been infected every week.
“This is a crisis!
” she said.
“Because when a girl is infected at that early age, there’s no cure for HIV, that marks the rest of their lives, their opportunities”.
She told the summit that 12 African countries have now committed to Education Plus, a bold initiative to prevent HIV infections through free universal, quality secondary education for all girls and boys in Africa, reinforced through comprehensive empowerment programmes.
Audrey Azoulay, leader of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reminded that “there can be no economic development and no peace without education,” and underscored that Afghan girls must be able to go back to school.
“It is their right”, she upheld.
Watch here deliver her address here.
Other distinguished speakers included UN Messenger of Peace Malala Yousafzai who called on world leaders to make schools safe for girls and protect every child’s right to learn.
“If you are serious about creating a safe and sustainable future for children, then be serious about education,” she said.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and its partners conducted a 3-day Technical Review Panel (TRP) assessment workshop for its African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative in Kigali, Rwanda, September 13-15, 2022 The objective of the workshop was to review the Expression of Interest proposals submitted for the Local Pharmaceutical Production Pillar of the Initiative to produce Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health products ( SRMNCH) in Africa.
The TRP, whose members are WHO-AFRO, UNIDO, UNICEF, AUC, AUDA-NEPAD, UNFPA, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), and UNAIDS, was chaired by WHO-AFRO.
The Head of the ECA Regional Integration Section, Mr. Francis Ikome, welcomed the members of the TRP and highlighted the historical events that led to the formation of the Pharmaceutical Initiative.
Mr. Ikome led the meeting through a review of global and regional frameworks based on the initiative's three pillars, namely joint procurement, localized production, and harmonized regulatory quality standards for medicines.
He emphasized that the ECA-led AfCFTA Pharmaceutical Initiative provides a continentally anchored and validated plan for scaling up Sexual Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (SRMNCH) products in Africa.
The Initiative also builds on the implementation of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
In his opening remarks, Dr. Nyirimigabo Fatouma, representing the Director General of the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority, said that the Government of Rwanda strongly advocates joint procurement together with the pilot countries and as host to the Secretariat.
of the African Medicines Agency (AMA).
He explained that "we look forward to collaborating with all stakeholders to ensure that continental pharmaceutical production meets WHO standards."
Mr. Moses Chisale, TRP Chair and Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization Africa Region (WHO-AFRO), said that the Pharmaceutical Initiative should be commended for the work it is doing, especially with regard to to policy dialogue commitments.
He added that "the AfCFTA-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative represents lucrative private sector investment and innovation opportunities that will change lives, reduce poverty and contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic development in Africa."
After lengthy but productive deliberations, the TRP selected five of the eleven companies for further evaluation under the Pharmaceutical Initiative Guidelines.
The selected companies will undergo further assessment to determine the technical and financial support they require from the ECA and its collaborating partners to enable them to increase the production of quality-assured SRMNCH products in Africa.
By Paul Bhuhi, General Manager, Vantage Health Technologies and Annika Lindorsson Krugel, Chief Client Officer, Vantage Health Technologies.
To end HIV in our lifetime, collaboration will be the driving force.
This year we once again regained a sense of the power of collaboration, when after nearly two years of being grounded by COVID-19 and limited to online meetings and email exchanges, we were able to hold dynamic in-person roundtable discussions with stakeholders.
multifaceted again to discuss the main challenges in HIV treatment management.
There really is no substitute for true interpersonal synergy: we come together to share learnings and co-created solutions.
We left with a renewed optimism and passion for the work at hand: together we can achieve the UNAIDS 95-95-95 HIV care and treatment targets, and together we can minimize the burden of disease!
Recent roundtables in Abuja, Nigeria and Kampala, Uganda focused on the common and pressing challenge in HIV care and treatment programs of how do we retain patients in their HIV treatment.
In the language of public health we ask ourselves: how do we achieve the 'second 95' on the continuum of control of the HIV epidemic?
This is an essential principle of HIV management, because for people to live healthy lives and stop transmission, they must be virally suppressed, and that means they must stay on long-term treatment.
While great progress has been made in both countries, there is always more to learn and more to do.
That's where the power of in-person collaboration brought together four stakeholder groups—namely government, donors, implementers, and medical experts—whose collaboration is integral to the delivery of differentiated services and continuous improvement of health care.
quality so that people living with HIV can continue to test positive.
health outcomes and living healthy lives.
Together we discuss our shared challenges, dream of a better future and co-create solutions.
Here are some key insights and insights: Too many people are dropping out of HIV treatment The latest data from Uganda's national HIV programmes, for example, shows patients dropping out of treatment or being 'lost to follow-up' in clinics, where 21% of people drop out.
treatment within the first six months, and up to 30% of people drop out of treatment within the first two years.* Similar trends in Nigeria have shown significant improvement in retention, but more needs to be done.
The reason people drop out of treatment is multifaceted.
Stakeholders face interconnected challenges to improve patient outcomes: Governments must commit to addressing lack of capacity, overreliance on donor funding, poor coordination, and deteriorating infrastructure.
Donors need the commitment of governments, the delivery of infrastructure and good quality data from their health systems.
Field implementers can face various barriers ranging from workforce attrition, industrial strikes, resource limitations, technology support, and access to connectivity.
Ultimately, all of this leads to a worse outcome for patients who often face high transportation costs, long waiting periods, and hidden costs, meaning these patients are more likely to drop out of their HIV treatment.
Patient stigma remains a problem Stigma is often critical to the patient, as it continues to be a major barrier to seeking treatment throughout their lives.
Patients' rights and privacy must become the center of the conversation change.
So what can be done to increase patient retention?
The challenges are multifaceted and patient outcomes must be at the core of what we do.
This group of stakeholders together across borders, programs, and roles led us to some very focused actions and themes that, scaled up, could lead to better patient retention and outcomes.
One of the main themes that we see in all the programs is sustainability.
It was encouraging to see that in all the countries we visited there was resounding support for strong coordination between government, funders, implementing partners, civil society and other relevant actors to work effectively to achieve patient retention and strengthen broader health systems and epidemic control.
. While there may not be a silver bullet, the following are key success factors and trends that enable retention: We must use technology to inspire action Technology is another hot topic, especially in retention and reaching the goal end of 95 viral suppression.
As we have found in our current work in Africa, using artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics, it has become possible to identify high-risk patients who are more likely to drop out of treatment due to missed appointments or not collecting medication.
As one of the delegates put it, "we just don't have the resources to call or reach everyone in person."
Armed with this data, AI can guide programs on where to focus their resources and develop outreach and communication strategies to reach these patients and ensure they stay in treatment.
We support a large HIV program in southern Africa, and it has shown that reaching these patients through SMS, phone calls or home visits has significantly improved appointment attendance.
It all comes down to how technology can help guide where that action should be focused.
Retention is something dynamic and in motion.
This is where AI becomes even more important, as actions and strategies can be shaped around data-driven analysis.
Technology can also be the backbone to ensure that patient data remains private and protected.
With proper security protocols, patients will be less exposed and therefore able to maintain their right to equal access and privacy.
As one of our attendees who has used the technology a lot said: “The project has demonstrated the effectiveness of proactive monitoring of people living with HIV and has made us understand the importance of the monitoring interventions that we are implementing.
It has broadened our minds and we already have plans to scale to more facilities.” The other main issue is differentiated care and service delivery.
We need to meet patients where they are and better understand their challenges.
Improving care in facilities, welcoming patients without discrimination or stigma, creating shorter waiting periods, and ensuring there are no hidden costs that cause them to drop out of treatment are issues we can solve if we work together.
And as we bring more and more people together from all the health programs we work in, we always leave with a sense of togetherness.
Our vision is a world where access to good health enables people to thrive.
From the interactions on the ground, we can tell you that as challenging and difficult as it may seem, it is a shared vision across borders, and there is certainly momentum to continue to achieve that vision.
*Uganda Ministry of Health (2020) “Implementation Guidance for Differentiated Service Delivery Models of HIV and TB Services in Uganda” Uganda AIDS Commission Fact Sheet 2021
Dr Leo Zekeng, Country Director, UN Joints Action Against (UNAIDS), says the intervention of Global Fund has helped to reduce new HIV infections globally by 45 per cent.
Zekeng said during the 7th replenishment preconference on Saturday in Abuja that Global Fund was indispensable in the fight against HIV.
“Global Fund matters to UNAIDS and the HIV response and is one of the key players in our collective response to AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. “Global Fund provides funding to over 100 countries to plan and respond to AIDS epidemic and represents 25 per cent of the international funding for the HIIV response,” he said.
The UNAIDS’ Chief commended the Fund for saving lives globally and achieving what was once thought to be impossible.
According to him, with the impact of GF, total AIDS related deaths have dropped by 65 per cent.
He added that with access to treatment, HIV positive persons have become free to enyoy life just like any HIV negative person.
Zekeng expressed UNAIDS’ commitment to continuous collaboration with GF, so as to develop health infrastructure, strengthen health systems and build capacity of health personnel.
The Country Director expressed ooptimism that the world will provide at least the 18 billion dollars GF needed to tackle the AIDS scourge and other deadly diseases by 2030. He called on donors and recipient countries to stand in solidarity in fighting for what counted through successful 7th GF replenishment.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the GF’s 7th Replenishment conference will hold later in September in the United States.
It is expected that the world will take bold action to protect everyone and everywhere from deadliest infectious diseases such as TB, Malaria and HIV.
The intervention will build resilient and sustainable health systems and strengthen pandemic preparedness, so as to make the world more equitable and safer from future threats.
The Federal Government, UNESCO and other partners have launched a one-month digital campaign `Education Saves Lives’, to buttress the need for young people to be educated.
The partners include Federal Ministries of Education, Health, Women Affairs and Social Development, UNFPA, UNAIDS, UN Information Centre, CSOs and other donor, UN agencies.
Mr Lamine Sow, Officer-in-Charge of UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja recalled that African leaders had committed themselves in Agenda 2063. This is to ensure for people-driven development, relying on the potential of young people, children.
“This is why UNESCO and its partners are working assiduously to ensure that the youth demographic dividend is achieved by engaging in strategic actions that will ensure this gain.
“Our vision is for a Nigeria where positive outcomes in health, education and gender equality are a reality for all adolescents and young people.
“This will enable them to get educated, healthy and thriving citizens of the future, able to contribute to their communities and the country,’’ Sow said.
Sow further hoped that elements of the campaign were systematically shared on social platforms, ensure its trends and the acceptance of the campaign by stakeholders and positive interactions on the Comprehensive Education Information (CEI).
He said, ”we have a mutual goal to achieve, improve the status of education, health and wellbeing of adolescents and young people in Nigeria.
“This campaign has the potential to contribute if we engage in posting, reposting the messages to make them go viral, trend daily and using the hashtags: #EducationSavesLives, #WeNeedToKnow and #Nigeria.
’’ Mrs Pauline Tallen, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, while commending UNESCO said that child care and improving the health of young girls were in the heart of the government.
Represented by Ms. Ucha Kalu, Assistant Chief Social Welfare Officer, Child Development Department, Tallen said the government will keep supporting policies that improve the lives of Nigerians especially young women.
Mr David Adejo, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, called on stakeholders to be consistent in the promotion of education and other aspects of health education.
Represented by Dr Lydia Giginna, he said that with education can improve every aspect of human lives.
Mrs Bosede Odunayo, School Counsellor, Abuja School for the Deaf, Kuje called on stakeholders to provide the infrastructure people living with different forms of disabilities need for their education.
Dr Babatunde Adelekan, National Programme Officer on HIV, Youth of UNFPA said the idea behind the digital campaign came up because it was important to carry young people along in everything.
“It is important we carry young people along in terms of planning, implementation and Nigeria has a big presence of young people in the social media space.
“It is important for people to listen and understand what is happening now, to act on the issues and challenges.
“Findings have shown that education is a great tool for transformation and change, and educating a young person, providing him with the right tools.
He will have the right autonomy to do the right thing.
“He will know how to stay healthy and ensure that he has what it takes to actualise his potential,’’ Adelekan said.
Ms Ngozi Amanze, Education National Programme Officer, UNESCO, said that the UN body and partners were ensuring that there is the legal framework on education that includes the disabled, children, young girls, and the youths Amanze added that the campaign was expected to be posted on all of the organisation’s social media handles that will tag partners, participants at the launch of the campaign and relevant stakeholders.
“The posts will be put up at 9am, 12 pm, 6pm, 8pm and 10pm daily for the next one month and this campaign is going on in 23 countries across West and Central Africa,’’ she said.
Goodwill messages also came in from UNAIDS, Plan International, Civil Society Organisations, and representatives of Persons Living With Disabilities, among others.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that in November 2020, UNESCO, UNFPA supported FG to organise its national consultation on the status of adolescents and young people.
Then, there were recommendations that focused on young people’s education, reproductive health and gender equality.
The campaign aims to convey a positive narrative on CEI, while the CEI programmes will help young ones to lead healthy, respectful lives.
Dr. Leo Zekeng, Country Director and UNAIDS Representative in Nigeria, has shared how lessons from the AIDS response apply to the monkeypox response.
Dr Zekeng said: “Monkeypox is endemic in Nigeria, and there has been a significant increase in suspected and confirmed cases in recent weeks.
The most recently published situation report by the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) (August 7, 2022) indicates that in 2022 there have been more than 473 suspected cases of monkeypox (407 of which are from the May 30), of which 172 have been confirmed (151 of which are since May 30).
In the latest published weekly data (August 1 to 7), 60 suspected cases were recorded in one week, of which 15 were confirmed.
The Nigerian government, civil society organizations, development partners and the UN are working together to respond to the increase in suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox in Nigeria.
On May 26, 2022, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) activated a National Multisectoral Emergency Operations Center for Monkeypox to strengthen and coordinate ongoing response activities in the country and contribute to the global response.
The lessons we have learned in the AIDS response also apply to the monkeypox response.
The response to monkeypox in Nigeria is affected by both social stigma and global inequality in access to essential medicines, including vaccines.
Local staff in the hardest-hit states have reported that stigma, linked to comments from around the world blaming homosexuals for monkeypox, is deterring some people from seeking care.
Local staff report that there have been situations where people are too afraid to access health care due to stigma.
State health officials are working to ensure that health clinic staff are sensitized to break down that stigma, not reinforce it.
State Ministry of Health officials are also embarking on monkeypox community awareness, emphasizing symptom identification, prevention and the need to get tested.
Shortages of key medicines are also holding back Nigeria's response to monkeypox.
It is necessary to support the expansion of the supply of drugs, equipment and sample collection materials.
Unlike the US and the EU, Nigeria has no supply of monkeypox vaccine.
This creates a sense of frustration among people in the affected areas that the world has left them behind.
This inequality in access to vaccines and other key medicines must be urgently corrected by sharing doses, sharing production rights and sharing knowledge.
Supporting efforts to challenge stigma and enable access to essential medicines are key to ensuring that everyone affected by monkeypox in Nigeria receives the care they need.
Support for the response in Nigeria is essential to the success of the global response."
A 66-year-old man living with HIV since the 1980s could be the fourth person cured of the HIV virus that causes AIDS since this global epidemic was discovered.
The story of this man who did not want to reveal his identity was one of the news items shared at the International AIDS Conference, which ended last week in Montreal, Canada.
According to medical sources, the individual known as "the patient from the City of Hope" - alluding to the hospital where he received his antiretroviral treatment - has not contained the virus in his body for more than 17 months, and has already stopped taking it.
Doctors explain that the patient underwent a risky treatment for his leukemia that coincidentally eradicated HIV from his body.
“When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, like many others, I thought it was a death sentence,” said the patient.
“I never thought I would live to see the day when I no longer had HIV.
I am beyond grateful,” he added.
This case joins three others registered in the past, which represents hope for the scientific community that continues to work to find a cure for this global epidemic.
While cures are rare, HIV treatment is available and, with consistent adherence, millions of lives have been saved.
In Mozambique, the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has supported the government's response to HIV and AIDS since 2004.
Since then, nearly $5 billion has been invested in prevention, care and HIV treatment, both clinically and community-based.
based on approaches, which has prevented millions of AIDS deaths.
Today, more than 1.7 million Mozambicans are receiving antiretroviral treatment and are able to lead healthy lives.
PEPFAR and various stakeholders in the national response strive to achieve the UNAIDS target 95 95 95 of controlling the HIV epidemic by 2030.
UN agencies and others on Monday formed a global alliance to prevent new HIV infections and ensure that by 2030 all HIV positive children can get access to lifesaving treatment.
According to UN data, more than three quarters of all adults living with HIV are receiving some kind of treatment while the number of children doing so stands at only 52 per cent.
In a statement issued by the Joint United Nations Programme on (UNAIDS), the initiative was launched by three UN agencies- UNAIDS, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) in response to this startling disparity.
In addition to the UN agencies, the alliance includes civil society movements, including the Global Network of People living with HIV, national governments in the most affected countries, and international partners, including PEPFAR and the Global Fund. Twelve countries have joined the alliance in the first phase: Angola, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The new Global Alliance for Ending AIDS in Children by 2030 was announced at the landmark International AIDS Conference, which comes to a close in Montréal, Canada, on Tuesday.
Addressing the conference, Ms Limpho Nteko from Lesotho shared her journey from a surprise HIV diagnosis to pioneering the women-led mothers2mothers programme to combat gestational transmission of HIV.
Pregnant when diagnosed, Nteko highlighted the importance of community leadership in combating HIV.
“To succeed, we need a healthy, informed generation of young people who feel free to talk about HIV, and to get the services and support they need to protect themselves and their children from HIV,” she told delegates.
“mothers2mothers has achieved virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV for our enrolled clients for eight consecutive years – showing what is possible when we let women and communities create solutions tailored to their realities.
” Netko’s emphasis on community leadership will now be backed by the resources of an international coalition.
According to her, together, stakeholders in the alliance have identified four pillars of collective action: “Close the treatment gap among breastfeeding adolescent girls and women living with HIV and optimise the continuity of treatment.
“Prevent and detect new HIV infections among pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent girls and women.
“Promote accessible testing, optimised treatment, and comprehensive care for infants, children, and adolescents exposed to and living with HIV.
“Address gender equality, and the social and structural barriers that hinder access to services.
’’ The potential success of the alliance rests on its unifying nature, according to UNAIDS Executive Director, Ms Winnie Byanyima.
She argues that, by bringing together new improved medicines, new political commitment, and the determined activism of communities, we can be the generation who end AIDS in children.
“We can win this – but we can only win together.
“Only through collaboration at all levels of society, can holistic solutions be created to effectively prevent further HIV transmission,’’ she said.