The Commonwealth Secretariat will host two events at the 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA), which takes place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 4 to 8 December 2011.
Under the conference theme ‘Own, Scale-Up and Sustain’, the Secretariat will host a session on how health services can be integrated to deal with the dual disease burden of HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) facing African countries. It will also host a media forum to raise awareness of the links between HIV/AIDS and NCDs.
ICASA 2011 aims to advocate for increased accountability for, and a scaled-up and sustained response to the ongoing AIDS crisis by political leaders, the scientific community, civil society and the private sector.
In doing so, the meeting will provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge, skills, experiences and best practices from Africa and around the world.
With a focus on achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals, ICASA 2011 will also look to rapidly increase evidence-based responses to HIV and AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis and malaria.
The Commonwealth Secretariat has supported the Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA), UNAIDS, the World Health Organization and the African Union in planning the agenda for ICASA 2011.
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Ransford Smith stated, “Our participation in ICASA demonstrates our commitment to accelerating action to implement the objectives outlined in the 2011 UN Political Declaration on AIDS and is consistent with the recent CHOGM Outcomes.”
Commonwealth leaders, meeting in Australia in October, called for a higher profile by the organisation in tackling HIV/AIDS.
Dr Sylvia Anie, Director of the Social Transformation Programmes Division which houses Health in the Secretariat, said she was encouraged to see that issues of critical importance to the Commonwealth, such as the links between communicable and non-communicable diseases, would be addressed at the ICASA conference.
SAA President Professor Robert Soudre, in his pre-conference statement, said the Ethiopia meeting was a significant part of a campaign to reduce the spread of diseases in Africa.
“Less than five years to the target date for the achievement of the MDGs, I believe that this powerful gathering of ICASA 2011 will point the way forward to accomplishing our common vision of ‘zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related death in Africa',” Professor Soudre said.