Lordina Addresses 71st UN General Assembly

By
Lydia Asamoah, GNA

New York, Sept. 21,
GNA – The First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama says continued focus on adolescent
girls, is key to achieving many of the targets of the Sustainable Development
Goals.

Speaking at a High
Level event on the sidelines of the ongoing 71st U.N. General Assembly in New
York, Mrs Mahama who is also the President of the Organisation of African First
Ladies Association (OAFLA) said adolescent girls face numerous challenges and vulnerabilities,
yet until recently, they have hardly been the centre of discussions, at the
global and national levels.

“Adolescents
continue to experience, elevated HIV vulnerability, with the greatest risk of
exposure.

“Globally, AIDS is
the leading cause of death among women, and girls, of reproductive age 15 to
49, with about 14 million children orphaned due to AIDS,” Mrs Mahama explained.

The theme for the
event was: “Improving the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescent Girls:
The Role of First Ladies.”

Mrs Mahama said in
Africa, WHO estimates that one out of every six deaths is due to HIV; and 70
per cent of these are among adolescent girls.

She said OAFLA
recognises that, many of its member countries, have large populations of young
people and therefore, the year of focus, on this population group, has provided
a much needed boost.

She said OAFLA is
therefore turning the spotlight, on: “Improving the Sexual and Reproductive
Health of Adolescent Girls” on the sideline event of the 71st UN General
Assembly.

Mrs Mahama said in
OAFLA’s work, it has strongly advocated effective policies, and strategies,
towards the reduction of maternal and child mortality and the empowerment of
women and children through the building, and sustaining strategic partnerships,
at global, regional and community levels.

“Therefore, we have
committed to help break down barriers, and with adolescent girls in the lead,
we will put importance on their sexual, and reproductive health needs.

“Today, we shall
determine ways in which we must all prepare, as players on the field, to
support, assist and help pave the way, for our girls, towards improving their
sexual, and reproductive health” she said.

She was speaking at
a gathering of First Ladies, development and donor partners, Ministers of
State, Technical Advisers, Goodwill Ambassadors; representatives of civil
Society Organisations and youth Ambassadors.

Mrs Mahama said the
United Continental “All In” Adolescent HIV campaign launched in Ghana in
February, on the sidelines of the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and
Rights calls on countries, to begin listening, involving, and including young
people, in efforts to reduce new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths.

She said the African
First Ladies agreed at that meeting that the best practice, was to build
adolescents’ capacity, and have them lead the efforts.

She explained that
OAFLA members have therefore begun operationalising, the campaign, through the
development of a number of country-level, and community outreach plans.

“We are organising
events, to intensify the momentum generated, targeting adolescents’, especially
adolescent girls, in our respective countries,” she noted.

She said the UN
meeting therefore offers an opportunity, to further advance the course, by
reflecting on the current challenges, and gaps, in relation to improving
sexual, and reproductive health needs, of our adolescent girls, and then to
look ahead at how to make this a reality.

She said various
partnerships with donor partners have helped reach many more girls with sexual
reproductive health, and rights services, as well as skills building, and
empowerment programmes.

“Now, further
partnerships, and funding opportunities, need to be identified, to
comprehensively scale up interventions” Mrs Mahama said.

She appealed to all
to work with OAFLA members to ensure comprehensive sexual, and reproductive
health, and rights for adolescents; especially adolescent girls in Africa.

Mrs Mahama expressed
the hope that statements, comments, panel deliberations and general discussions
as well as ideas that would come out at the sideline meeting would define the
course, for the role of first ladies and lead the transformation, for their own
health and development as headway towards achieving the Sustainable Development
Goals in 2030.

GNA

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