Jun 2, 2008, 5:15 AM
Officials of the National Aids Secretariat (NAS) Wednesday briefed journalists on the activities spearheaded by the Office of the First Lady in the fight against HIV and AIDS with emphasis on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.
Briefing journalists at the secretariat head office on Kairaba Avenue,Pa Ousman Bah, programme manager, National AIDS Control Programme (NACP,) said it would be recalled that in 2002, thirty-seven African First Ladies met in Geneva at a meeting facilitated by the UNAIDS and the International AIDS Trust (IAT).
This historic meeting, he added, saw the establishment of the Organization of the African First Ladies against AIDS (OAFLAA), representing a collective voice for those infected and affected by the disease in Africa since then to date.
Bah informed journalists that OAFLAA had become a force to be reckoned with, providing the leadership and political will required for ensuring a positive change in lives of people living with HIV (PLHIVs).
The Gambia, under the Office of the First Lady, Madam Zaineb Yahya Jammeh, has been part and parcel of this laudable initiative from inception.
He said the First Lady of the Republic of The Gambia launched OAFLAA, Gambia Chapter (OAFLAA) in April 2004, at a ceremony attended by the Vice President Ministers, women leaders around the country and a cross section of Gambians.
Mbinki Sanneh, PMTCT Coordinator MDH, said Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) could occur on pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding, adding that globally, about 370,000 children under the age of 15 years became infected with HIV in 2009.
Madam Sanneh added that out of this figure, 90 percent of them got HIV through their mothers and about 2.3 million, 92 percent of the 2.5 million children livingwith HIV in 2009 live in sub-Saharan Africa, where the prevalence of HIV infection among women childbearing age reaches 35 percent.
MTCT was reversing the positive downtrend in infant and child mortality previously seen in sub-Saharan Africa, she said.