Building Partnerships with African First Ladies to Enhance Advocacy to End Pediatric AIDS
Policy & Advocacy
On the margins of the recently concluded African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) held its General Assembly and launched the Free to Shine campaign; a joint EMTCT campaign with the African Union. Free to Shine builds on the UNAIDS Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free framework for children to catalyze regional action around the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis by 2030.
EGPAF is a partner in the Free to Shine campaign along with UNAIDS, WHO, Abbott, UNICEF, UNDP, and AIDS Accountability International. EGPAF acknowledges the critical role that First Ladies play in advocating at the national and sub-national levels on behalf of their citizens. EGPAF therefore brings its global, regional and national expertise and experience to support the Free to Shine mission to raise awareness of the challenges faced by mothers and children living with and affected by HIV, to reach the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, to raise resources and to increased accountability by governments.
In line with the 2018 theme of OAFLA – Transforming Africa through prioritizing children, adolescents and mothers in the fight against HIV – EGPAF launched an advocacy tool kit in partnership with OAFLA during the Technical Advisors meeting of the First Ladies. This tool kit on children and adolescents living with and at risk for HIV provides comprehensive information on the challenges of addressing HIV as it relates to children, adolescents and pregnant women and will be used as resource for First Ladies and their technical advisors on ways to advocate on these issues in country. The expanded tool kit recommends the actions that First Ladies can take to drive action at various levels and makes specific suggestions on how they can take those steps to bring about meaningful change.
This EGPAF/OAFLA tool kit is an exciting resource for First Ladies and their technical advisors and is timely in its release alongside the Free to Shine campaign. Speaking at the launch of the Free to Shine campaign, Titus Syengo, EGPAF Regional Director for Program Implementation, congratulated the First Ladies on the work that they are doing in driving action to get to the end of AIDS in children. He noted:
As we pursue the dream of Elizabeth Glaser and that of many mothers, we (EGPAF) will continue to work with OAFLA and the African Union at national, regional and global levels through initiatives such as the Free to Shine campaign until no child has AIDS.
EGPAF is partnering with OAFLA to drive the implementation of the campaign at the national level and EGPAF staff held deliberations with several Technical Advisors. The Regional Director also had a high level bilateral discussion with the First Lady of Niger, Her Excellency Dr. Lalla Malika Issoufou Mahamadou where he noted that:
This tool kit will help to inform First Ladies’ advocacy efforts in country and regionally in order to reach the ambitious targets of the Free to Shine campaign by 2030.