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Meeting of the Society for AIDS in Africa & the Director of Ghana Health Service

From the left Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, Mr Manu Sarpong and Mr. Luc Bodea

From the left Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, Mr Manu Sarpong and Mr. Luc Bodea

ICASA 2015 Zimbabwe was a resounding success on all fronts. Despite the short spun of time the International ICASA Secretariat in conjunction with the local Secretariat spearheaded the Conference which recorded 5400 delegate attendance. Many dignitaries including His Excellency Mr. Emmerson Mnangagwa the First Vice President of Zimbabwe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Mr. Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Leila Pakkala, the Regional Director of UNICEF East & Southern Africa and Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, Director of WHO Afro attended the opening ceremony. It’s worthy to note that the first plenary speakers was Her Excellency, Ambassador Deborah Birx of PEPFAR announced the higher profile of the conference by presenting “Working Together to Achieve Sustainable Epidemic Control”. Dr. Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS presented on “Ending Aids By 2030: An Achievable Goal”, Hon. Nana Oye Lithur Cabinet Minister of Gender Children & Social Protection of the Republic of Ghana delivered on “Stepping up the pace on removal of punitive laws to advance human rights & gender equality” and Professor Sheila Dinotshe Tlou, Director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa presented “Close the Leadership Gap: Empower African Women & Girls” among other prominent speakers.
Despite the short announcement of the change in Host country, more than I, 545 abstracts were presented at ICASA 2015. 241 were categorized under oral abstracts with 983 showcased under poster. ICASA 2015 also brought together 91 organizations during the Exhibition which included UN and pharmaceutical agencies, Non-governmental organizations, and charities, just to mention a few.

The ICASA 2015 Community Village provided a space to share knowledge and skills, build coalitions and promote interactive learning among communities living with and affected by HIV and AIDS, policy makers, researchers and other stakeholder groups. It was an interactive and participatory community-focused space that aimed to strengthen the overall theme of the conference; “AIDS in Post 2015 Era: Linking Leadership, Science & Human Rights”.

Community involvement before and during ICASA 2015 was ensured, where possible. A Community Programme Committee was formed. Community representatives were included in all ICASA 2015 committees. Some of the Key Speakers from the ICASA 2015 Community program included Daughtie Ogutu who spoke on “Valuing Communities” plenary, Mr. Frank DeRose of Condomize, Mr. Kene Esom of Amsher were among the Key figures in the Community Program.

The Youth Pavilion supported meaningful participation and purposeful dialogue of youth throughout the conference. The Youth Pavilion in the Community Village was a space that hosted meetings and forums, highlight and showcase youth achievements, facilitate networking opportunities, engage adults in dialogue and carry on the momentum from youth pre-conference. The conference lasted a whole week long. Some key speakers at the Closing Ceremony included the Minister of Health of South Africa, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi as well as Dr.Gerald Gwinji, Secretary for Health & Childcare of Zimbabwe. Overall ICASA 2015 Zimbabwe was a resounding success and the International ICASA Secretariat is looking forward to ICASA 2017.

Upon Returning back home, The Coordinator of SAA, Mr. Luc Bodea decided to pay a courtesy call on the various heads of agencies in the Health Sector of Ghana. One of this meetings was with the Director of Ghana Health Service, Dr. Badu Sarkodie. The meeting took place in the office of Dr. Badu Sarkodie, the Director of Ghana Health Service. Members present included Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, the Program manager for HIV/AIDS of the Ghana health Service, Mr. Manu Sarpong, the Administrator of Ghana Health Service, Mr. Luc Bodea, the Coordinator of SAA/Director of ICASA, Mr. Chris Nuatro, the Marketing & Partnership Officer of SAA and Mr. Gordon Tambro, the Program officer of SAA.
Dr. Sarkodie had to leave for another meeting so the meeting proceeded in his absence. Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo welcomed the Team from SAA on behalf of the Director of Ghana Health Service. After brief introductions, Mr. Bodea proceeded to state the mission for meeting. He stated the Society for AIDS in Africa, the custodians of the International Conference on HIV/AIDS and STI’s in Africa (ICASA) were in the process of planning a strategic meeting of experts and stakeholders in the fields of emergency diseases towards the development of a concept note for a proposed symposium to preempt the spread of the Zika Virus, Lassa Fever & Ebola in Africa.

With the Permanent Secretariat of SAA based in Accra Ghana, he reiterated that it was only right that the Ministry of Health as well as stakeholders in the health sector such as the Ghana Health Service and the Academia to spearhead the organization of the Symposium to preempt the spread of The Zika Virus & Lassa Fever in Africa in partnership with SAA. Mr. Bodea also asked that it will be appropriate if the Ghana health Service identify home grown experts that could contribute positively to the drawing up of the concept Note.

Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, expressed his appreciation that SAA was taken point on this initiative and lauded the idea as one that can push the African Agenda on Emergency diseases a step forward. He also welcomed the collaboration with SAA and the Ghana Health Service.

Mr. Luc Bodea, coordinator of SAA seized the opportunity to officially present the Harare Declaration, one of the major outcomes of the just ended International Conference on HIV/AIDS and STI’s in Africa, ICASA 2015 Zimbabwe, to the Director of Ghana Health Service, Dr. Badu Sarkodie as a contribution of ICASA towards strengthening the Health system in Africa and particularly Ghana. This was received on his behalf by Mr. Manu Sarpong. Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo thanked SAA on behalf of Dr. Sarkodie and was very optimistic about the upcoming symposium that will really help Africa to preempt the spread of the Zika Virus & Lassa fever in Africa.

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