Malawi leader launches 1st UNAIDS-Lancet Commission Summit

President Dr. Joyce Banda on Friday launched the First UNIAIDS -Lancet Summit in Lilongwe where she challenged the Commission to fight for an HIV free generation in a few years to come.

The President said with total commitment and determination of the UNIAIDS and Lancet Commission she was optimistic that the post-2015 agenda of AIDS and global health was achievable.

“For decades we have been trapped in a vicious grip of desperation,” said President Banda. “HIV has robbed us of a future continent. But I stand before you full of hope because today we have the tools we need to win the fight.”

The President said she felt greatly honored to have the first Summit of the UNIAIDS and Lancet held in Malawi, with her as co-chairperson.

President Dr Joyce Banda who is also the host speaking during the openning of the conference. pic by Felix Washon. MANA

President Dr Joyce Banda who is also the host speaking during the openning of the conference. pic by Felix Washon. MANA

She said it was very pleasing to note that Malawi had managed to reduce new HIV infection rate by 73 percent and that Government had managed to put over half a million people on life prolonging drugs, ARVs.

“If we have managed to achieve all this, it is possible to eliminate HIV one day,” said the President.

She also announced that from Monday, July 1, 2013, the current ARV drugs shall no longer be administered to HIV positive persons and that Option B+ drugs would be ushered in as per the World Health Organization (WHO) guide lines.

“Option B+ has fewer side effects unlike the current drug which is leaving people with deformities thereby exposing them to stigma and discrimination,” said President Banda.

The President also called upon traditional and religious leaders in the country to support government efforts in fighting HIV and AIDS by eliminating bad cultural practices in the society.

The UNAIDS and Lancet Commission convened a new commission of political and Health leaders to explore the post-2015 agenda of AIDS and global health.

Among the participating commissioners were Peter Piot, Director of London school of Hygiene and tropical medicine. Michel Sidibe, Executive Director UNAIDS.

Jeanette Kagmae, First Lady of Rwanda and Sylivia Bongo Ondimba , First lady of  Gabon were other dignitaries attending the summit.—Malawi News Agency

Madame Sylvia Bongo, Ondimba First Lady of Gabon giving a key note address atb the conference. pic by Felix Washon, MANA.

Madame Sylvia Bongo, Ondimba First Lady of Gabon giving a key note address atb the conference. pic by Felix Washon, MANA.

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