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Liberia’s HIV prevalence rate at 2.7%

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Health officials here are racing against time to ensure that Liberia meets its 2020 target of 90-90 to cut back HIV infection here, which current prevalence rate stands at 2.7% with Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado Counties being highlighted.

90-90 is part of a set of global targets put in place UNAIDS to fast track strategies that will help scale back HIV infection by the year 2020. Speaking Tuesday at the National AIDS Commission Board of Directors’ meeting presided over by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleafin the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Foreign Ministry, Dr. Ivan F. Camanor, Chairperson, National AIDS Commission said huge progress has been made here since 2000 to cut back the spread of the deadly disease.

He said millions of lives have been saved but was quick to add that there are still important milestones to reach, barriers to break and frontiers to cross. He said the world has agreed to meet a set of global targets by 2020 as part of UNAIDS fast-track strategy to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat.

Dr. Camanor further stated that the Liberia Catch-up Plan is intended to supplement national strategies and quicken the pace of HIV responses in Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado

ounties.

He said the catch-up plan effectively will seek to triple its current testing and treatment figures within a short window of opportunity to fast track progress. He, however, indicated that the Commission including other partners are working on the plan for submission to UNAIDS by the end of November 2016.

The Board meeting was intended to examine performance in the coordination, planning, implementation and monitoring of the national response to HIV and AIDS and advance discussions to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDs.

Earlier President Sirleaf told board members that since the last Board meeting, a lot of events have taken place, which prevented the Board from meeting to discuss issues relating to the Board. She said key among them was the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, which according to her affected some of the progress made in the sector and as such something should be done to reduce HIV and AIDS if not eradicated.

An Executive Mansion release said President Sirleaf noted that with the help of the communities, citizens’ participation, and support from international partners and the role played by government – Ebola was defeated. She said HIV and AIDs continue to remain a serious issue in Liberia and must be dealt with at all levels. She received update and assessment reports of the

ational Response to HIV and AIDS of National AIDS Commission presented by Dr.Camanor.

She encouraged Board members to remain positively engaged with partners and other stakeholders with the hope that Liberia can redouble her efforts that the 90-90 cannot be an issue in 2050.
Companies urged to diversify investment in Agriculture sector

Pres. Sirleaf center flanked by UK Amb.Belgrove and other government officials. Photo credit: E-mansion
President Ellen Johnson SirleafTuesday called for investment that will diversify agriculture here mainly in the areas of cocoa, coffee and oil palm sectors to replace iron ore and rubber, the two traditional engines of the economy that have witnessed drops in global prices.
Delivering a key note address on Tuesday November 22 at the opening of a one-day Liberia-United Kingdom Trade Investment Forum, President Sirleaf stressed the need for participants to focus on diversifying their investments in the agriculture sector to focus mainly on cultivating cocoa, coffee and palm oil to benefit farmers involve and grow the Liberian economy.
Cognizant of the fact that investors at the forum included representatives from Arcelor Mittal, APM Terminal, Equatorial Oil Palm, Dawnus, Hummingbird, African Petroleum and Bollore, all from Great Britain, the Presidentis hopeful that these companies will see the need to diversify their investment opportunities in Liberia, particularly in the agriculture sector.
“If the issue of diversifying investment opportunities in Liberia is taken seriously by representatives of various British companies targeting the agricultural sector – to the point where farmers will eat, sell, and export; the Liberian economy is expected to pick up for the better”.President Sirleafadded.
Speaking earlier, British Ambassador to Liberia, David Belgrove, recalled that in 2012, an investment forum of this nature initially took place in London, Great Britain, with recommendations at that time for the next meeting to take place in Liberia so as to enable British companies, which have not been in Liberia before to come on the ground and see investment opportunities in Liberia for themselves.
Ambassador Belgrove assured the gathering that the role of the British Government is to cooperate and collaborate with sub-Saharan countries including Liberia in supporting economic growth for the benefit of those countries and their citizenry. He said such diversifications in investment focus of country like Liberia is likely to benefit many people because it creates opportunities for many, including about 8 Liberians who have had the opportunity study in the United Kingdom, in different fields of interest.
For her part, NIC Chairperson Madam EtmoniaTarpeh, said government will continue to support its economic policy with a plan to diversify investment opportunities aimed at focusing on the agricultural sector. She assured the gathering that Liberia was now ready for business and as such, all those wishing to invest in the country should be assured that the National Investment Commission (NIC) is ready to support them.
The one-day Liberia-UK Trade & Investment Forum was attended by senior government officials including Finance & Development Planning Minister, Boima S. Kamara, Central Bank Governor, Milton A. Weeks, the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Mr. Ian Yapp, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Liberia Electricity Corporation, Commerce Minister, Axel M. Addy and Mr. DehpueZuo, Deputy Foreign Minister for International Cooperation, international partners, among others.

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