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UNAIDS Sees Liberia As ‘Island Of Hope’
By Prince S. Nagbe
MONROVIA, August 3 (LINA) - The Regional Director of the Joint U.N. Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) for the West and Central Africa, Dr. Djibril Diallo, has said UN agency is interested in using Liberia as the “Island of Hope” for the region and the world at large.
Dr. Diallo noted that the strong leadership of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf exercised during the height of the Ebola crisis thereby addressing not only issues of Ebola but HIV and AIDS, could be used in mobilizing regional and international efforts now that she chairs the ECOWAS.
Dr. Diallo noted that UNAIDS acknowledges the Liberian government’s resilience in eradicating Ebola and the level of work done so far toward ending AIDS, especially as the region anticipates developing an Emergency Plan to help close the gaps in the AIDS response.
The UNAIDS Regional Director made the comment when he bid President Sirleaf farewell at her office in Monrovia on Wednesday.
Diallo pointed out that the West and Central Africa Emergency Plan to achieve the 90-90-90 will aim at catalyzing the ECOWAS regional AIDS plan and cross-fertilization with the regional health security efforts and other regional health programs.
He noted that the Emergency Plan is an emanation of the Political Declaration which is aimed at catalyzing the country and the region on ending AIDS as public health threat by 2030.
“UNAIDS Country Office and the National AIDS Commission have earlier highlighted the advances and challenges that are ahead of Liberia’s AIDS response and the West and Central Africa is behind such progress as testified in various reports by UNAIDS”, Diallo noted.
In response, President Sirleaf committed strong support to the national, regional and global effort to ending AIDS and to provide political support for the Emergency Plan on ending AIDS in West and Central Africa in line with the UN Political Declaration on AIDS adopted in New York in June 2016.
The UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa (WCA) arrived in the country on July 25 from Senegal to seek support from President Sirleaf to operationalize the Political Declaration on ending AIDS by 2030 and to develop and finalize an Emergency Plan for the region.
Dr. Diallo was accompanied by WCA Regional Community Mobilization and Networking Adviser, Dr. Joy Backory, and delivered a message on behalf of UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé to President Sirleaf on the nation’s contributions to the global response to ending AIDS.
While in Liberia, Dr. Diallo attended major functions, including Liberia’s 169th Independence Day celebration on July 26 in Monrovia and also made remarks during the opening ceremony of the workshop for member states of ECOWAS on Post-Ebola Global Reforms: The West African Perspective, held in Monrovia from July 28 to 29.
He also met with high profile UN officials and representatives of the government of Liberia and civil society actors, including associations of the network of people living with HIV as well as representatives of youth and Ebola survivors organizations.