First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo has called for education and skills
development programmes to empower young girls and women to enable them engage
in income generating activities.
This, she said, would
make girls and women better informed to take decisions about their sexuality
saying “being empowered will help women and adolescents make wise choices to
help them ‘stay’ free from HIV”.
Speaking in New York
at a programme organised by the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV
and AIDS (OAFLA), Mrs Akufo-Addo said “more importantly, to ensure that mothers
and children remain free of HIV and AIDS, adolescents, especially, girls and
vulnerable women must have access to sexual and reproductive healthcare
The OAFLA meeting held
on the side-lines of the 73rd UN General Assembly discussed the “Free to Shine”
campaign which was launched in January this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The programme brought
together development agencies, foundation partners and the private sector, with
an aim to network with the first ladies for future support and programmes.
The ‘Free to Shine’
campaign is led by OAFLA and the African Union and it reinforces political
commitment of African nations with a vision to end childhood AIDS in Africa by
2030 as well as keep mothers healthy.
The goal of the
campaign was to raise awareness of the HIV epidemic in children and the need to
prioritise children and mothers, to ensure that successes achieved in reducing
infections are extended to the vulnerable group.
The campaign is also
aimed at increasing understanding of how to prevent HIV and AIDS in childhood
by keeping mothers healthy, preventing mother-to-child transmission and
ensuring fast and effective identification and treatment of HIV infected children
Statistics said of all
adults newly infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, one in four is an
adolescent girl or young woman in their reproductive years.
In Ghana, according to
the 2016 HIV Sentinel Survey report, the National HIV Prevalence amongst
pregnant women attending antenatal clinic was 2.4 per cent.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said
research indicates that there are 300 new HIV infections daily worldwide and
this includes infections among women, adolescents and youth.
She said there is “the
need to do things differently if we are to have an HIV-free generation.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said
the ‘Free to Shine’ campaign is a timely initiative to ensure that children are
born free and live free of HIV whilst making sure that mothers are also
“As the Premier
Ambassador for the elimination of HIV and AIDS and being passionate about the
well-being of mothers and children, the ‘Free to Shine Campaign’ provides the
space for me to address both issues effectively”, she said.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said to
accelerate the pace and extent of ensuring that new infections are reduced by
80 per cent by the year 2020 in the country, “we have put in place policies and
interventions that will constitute the game changer”.
She said some of the
interventions include the endorsement and continued implementation of the Joint
United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 aspirational
treatment targets to be attained in 2020.