Ghana’s First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama, has been sworn into office as the new President of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The OAFLA president is elected every two years by the OAFLA General Assembly, Ghana’s First Lady is the seventh to be elected to serve as OAFLA president since the organisation’s establishment in 2002.
OAFLA was established by the African First Ladies as a collective voice for Africa’s most vulnerable people, women and children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.
Today, OAFLA has more than 26 African First Ladies as its active members, each leading her national chapter to do exemplary work in the areas of HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, cervical and breast cancer.
In an address, Mrs Mahama commended her predecessor Mrs Hinda DebyItno, First Lady of Chad for the excellent leadership and service she offered the organisation during her period in office.
She assured her that together with the new team they would not lower the standard she had set for them but will work hard to improve on what she has done and set a new benchmark for future presidents of OAFLA.
According to the First Lady, during the last twelve years, African first ladies had made tremendous contributions to the Africa Union’s commitment to fast track efforts designed to reduce AIDS to the barest minimum.
Mrs Mahama said, specifically, African first ladies had realized significant results as ambassadors for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission and for an AIDS-free generation.
According to her the first ladies had engaged in aggressive awareness raising campaigns and advocacy in their respective countries.
That, she said, had supported the substantial progress made on various Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and driven by that evidence, “we have expanded the mandate of OAFLA to address a broader set of sexual and reproductive health priorities”.
She said “our current OAFLA Strategic Plan (2014-2018) incorporates maternal, neo-natal and child health, cervical cancer and the empowerment of women, girls and children.
Under my leadership and with your support, OAFLA will strengthen ties with our existing partners, and engage new private and non-governmental partners to achieve our strategic goals”.
“My focus will be on accelerating the campaign to “eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive”.
We can eliminate mother to child transmission and ensure that no child is born with HIV and we shall achieve that”.
Mrs Mahama would also advocate the need for a united and continental “All-in campaign”, which ensures that we track progress among adolescents; and that no one is left behind.
We can only achieve these with unity of mind and purpose.
We will achieve these priorities by tirelessly educating and empowering our women and girls, whilst ensuring that they become economically independent.
In a speech read on her behalf, the Vice President of OAFLA, Mrs Gertrude H. Mutharika, First Lady of Malawi said the occasion was historic as it marked another milestone in the journey as a body of African First Ladies who were committed to making a difference on the African continent.
“It is therefore with great humility that I stand here to officially accept my new role in OAFLA as Vice President.This shows the confidence that you have in me personally and in my country, Malawi. I certainly do not take this gesture for granted and I would like to assure you all that I will serve our organisation diligently to ensure that we deliver on our goals and objectives”, she said.
Present at the ceremony were five African First ladies from Kenya, South Africa, Chad, Republic of Ethiopia and Ghana as well as African Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps.