The Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) and the African Union have today launched ‘Free To Shine‘, a new campaign that aims to help end childhood AIDS in Africa by 2030 and keep mothers healthy. The campaign, launched during the OAFLA General Assembly, will unite people and organisations at local and global levels to advance healthcare delivery that will contribute to ending childhood AIDS. To achieve its goal, the campaign will first focus on 2020 global targets for the elimination of mother to child transmission as outlined in the African Union’s Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030. These targets are aligned to global targets and commitments.
“While Africa has made unprecedented progress in responding to the AIDS epidemic, the response to childhood AIDS is lagging behind. To end the AIDS epidemic in Africa, we must act now to prioritise the use of knowledge and the implementation of tools that exist, to keep children AIDS-free and their mothers healthy. Preventing new HIV infections will transform Africa‘s broader health and development agenda and provide our children with a healthy and hopeful future,” said Her Excellency Mrs Roman Tesfaye, First Lady of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and President of OAFLA.
There are up to 1.4 million children living with HIV in Africa south of the Sahara – this is over half of all children living with HIV globally. Children are at greater risk of the potentially fatal consequences of HIV than any other age group. Despite this, detection and treatment levels remain low. Of the total number of children living with HIV, around 50% are not receiving treatment, and of these untreated children 50% die before they are 2 years old.
“We cannot end AIDS by 2030 if we do not focus on women and children. The Free To Shine campaign will drive for increased investments to strengthen health systems and achieve maximum impact where the burden is highest. The African Union is committed to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, which will lay a strong foundation for Africa‘s Agenda 2063 for socio-economic development and structural transformation,” said Her Excellency Amira El Fadil, the Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union.
The campaign aims to unite people and organisations from local to global levels, and support personal and collective understanding of the actions that can be taken to end childhood AIDS. The campaign will work to drive the effective delivery and use of healthcare services to keep mothers healthy, prevent mother to child transmission and ensure fast and effective identification and treatment of children infected by HIV.
The leading partners in the Free To Shine campaign have set out their campaign objectives as:
- To improve maternal and childhood AIDS programmes across Africa by building networks and partnerships of key organisations and advocate for domestic and global resource mobilisation
- To raise awareness of the childhood AIDS cycle of risk in Africa through mass media, publications, websites, meetings and other means
- To mobilise support for childhood AIDS programmes in Africa by working with high-level international forums such as UN General Assembly and its special sessions, G7 and G20 Summits and advocacy missions
- To inform AU governance structures such as the Permanent Representatives Council, the Executive Council and the Assembly, AU Organs (Pan-African Parliament, NEPAD and APRM) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) & Regional Health Organisations (RHOs) on key issues related to childhood AIDS