Wednesday, 14 December 2011 11:41

Closing Remarks by Adv. Bience Gawanas, Commissioner for Social Affairs on behalf of H.E Dr Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

HE Dr Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Health of Ethiopia

HE, Ambassador of France

Chairperson of the ICASA 2011

President of SAA

Representatives of the UN agencies, international and continental organisations

Distinguished Participants

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed my great honor and pleasure to represent the Chairperson of the AU Commission, HE Jean Ping who can unfortunately not be here. He ask me to tell you that he is confident that the outcome of the Conference was according to our expectation and that we will follow up on the outcomes.

Addis Ababa as the venue of ICASA 2011 is most appropriate because it was here in 1963, that Africa leaders met and set the vision of a free and independent Africa. Today, as African citizens we meet here to also set a vision for an AIDS free Africa.

The past four days have been filled with rich discussions that would greatly contribute to Africa's response to HIV and AIDS. I wish to express my heart-felt appreciation to all the participants who have worked tirelessly on keeping HIV on the global and African agenda.

I further wish to remind this gathering that the resolutions we have just adopted should not mark a new beginning but build on previous commitments as much as we need to sharpen our tools and make paradigm shifts in the way we have dealt with HIV. The slogan is quite appropriate: "Own, scale up and sustain"

You have discussed various topics amongst others leadership and the African responds. As far as the AU is concerned, we have provided the political space and commitment starting with the 2001 Abuja Special Summit on HIV/AIDS and Other related infectious diseases, 2006 Abuja Special Summit on HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria and Other infectious diseases and at the 2010 Kampala Summit. At Abuja 2001, African leaders declared "AIDS a State of Emergency on the Continent". They recognized that the epidemics constitute not only a major health crisis, but also an exceptional threat to Africa's development, social cohesion, political stability, and food security, as well as to the survival and life expectancy of African peoples. They also supported the establishment of the Global Fund apart from committing domestic resources to HIV and AIDS.

Collectively, the African leaders have actively participated in UN and other High Level sessions on AIDS and recently they have presented Common Positions for Africa to the UNGASS which successfully served as Africa's input into the adopted Political Declaration.

Individually, some African leaders have continued to champion for an effective response to AIDS the issue and have taken action in their respective countries that have reversed the spread of the diseases and committed resources to put many people on treatment.

At the 2001 Abuja Summit on HIV/AIDS, TB and Other Related Infectious Diseases, eight Heads of State and Government got together and created AIDS Watch Africa (AWA) as an advocacy platform at Head of State level to monitor the African response and mobilize resources.Over the past ten years, AWA has served as an African-led advocacy and accountability platform to press for the urgent acceleration of continental action to combat HIV/AIDS.

To continue to expand Africa's leadership and to mitigate the risk of backtracking on progress being made to combat HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria over the past decade, African Heads of State and Government and the African Union launched a process in 2011 to revitalize AIDS Watch Africa (AWA)

The ICASA 2011 has built on these previous commitments and it was not an easy task to organize the event. I wish to thank the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for hosting this important event. I further wish to thank the Society for AIDS in Africa, the International Steering Committee in which the AUC participated, the Local Organizing Committee and cooperating partners including the development partners and UN agencies especially UNAIDS under the dynamic and committed leadership of Michel Sidibe.

Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen

The ICASA is one of the rare opportunities we have in Africa to reflect on our response to HIV and AIDS. I am pleased that this year we have used this opportunity very well.

Once again, I wish thank to you very much for your commitment to make Africa fit for women, men and children and to show that we can and should own the problem and find solutions, we should scale up our interventions and sustain them through mobilizing resources especially domestic resources as a matter of overall development of our countries, search for social justice and equity, human rights and above all saving lives. An HIV free generation is possible. Keeping mothers alive is possible. Getting men involved in the fight is possible. Making the vulnerable visible is possible and giving voice to the voiceless if possible.

Finally, I want to read from the song called Stand Strong Africa, stand strong which was sung by the children with some key message of ICASA:

Stand strong Africa,

Origin of humanity

Africa land of Africans

Source of hope, why the sorrow

Even when financial resources are sparse

And when skilled manpower is scarce

If we learn and develop

It's not too late for Africans

To own the problem and learn the solutions

Stand strong Africa, stand strong

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Ethiopian is pleased to offer a 10% discount to all ICASA 2011 delegates.

Take advantage of this great offer by visiting your local Ethiopian ticket office. To find your nearest ticketing office, visit http://www.flyethiopian.com/. Upon your visit, please present your ICASA 2011 registration number to get the discount.

Please note this offer is not applicable for online purchases or at a non-Ethiopian Airlines ticketing office.

ICASA 2011, in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines, is pleased to offer ICASA 2011 delegates priority luggage service at Addis Ababa Bole Airport. To take advantage of this priority service, delegates must visibly identify their luggage by tying a Red Ribbon on the handle or body of the luggage.

Bon Voyage!

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