Addis Ababa, December 04, 2011 - Only eight hours to the official opening of ICASA 2011, the Ethiopian Emergency Plan on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) was launched today at the Millennium Hall.
Launched in the presence of H.E. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ethiopian Minister of Health, Mr. Michel Sidibé UNAIDS Executive Director, Under Secretary General of UN Dr. Caroline Ryan Director of Technical Leadership, Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, Washington, and Dr. Betru Tekle, Director General of FHAPCO, the plan addresses issues such as antenatal care, skilled attendant delivery and ARV treatment to HIV-positive pregnant women.
As explained by Dr. Tedros Adhanom, the launching of the plan is timely because PMTCT coverage is still low in the country due to low ANC coverage. According to a UNAIDS progress report, Ethiopia is one of 22 sub-Saharan countries that have succeeded in reducing the national rate of HIV infection by 25%.
To achieve increased uptake in PMTCT services and have an HIV-free generation, Dr. Tedros said, "the National Emergency Plan seeks to integrate Mother and Child Health (MCH) and PMTCT services, and use women’s groups for ownership and implementation of the plan to help bring about significant results.
On behalf of Ambassador Eric Goosby US Global AIDS Coordinator and UNAIDS, and his organization, Mr. Michel Sidibé commended the Ethiopian government for its response against the transmission of HIV from mother to child. He said that the plan is not only politically correct, it is also socially acceptable and economically doable. He said it’s economically doable because “with less than 300 dollars we can prevent the transmission and save a child’s life”.
Ethiopia is one of the countries that has signed the June 2011 Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive.
In a related development, the ICASA 2011 Community Village was officially inaugurated. The community village is set up in a bid to foster consultations among actors and partners in the HIV and AIDS response and create a space for key actors. On the occasion high level officials and community representatives gave speeches about the shared responsibilities.
At the community village inauguration, key note speakers included Ms. Jan Beagle Deputy Secretary General of UN and Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, H.E. Commissioner of the AU Commission for Social Affairs Mr. Dereje Alemayehu, NEP+ Director Dr. Meshesha Shewarega, CSO representative Dr. Robert Soudre, President of Society for AIDS in Africa and Dr. Tesfaye G.Kidan , ICASA Program Chair.